According to ancient Greek mythology and depicted by Homer himself, Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture. She is known to be the most beautiful goddess in all existence, surpassing Athene and Hera. Hesiod wrote that Aphrodite was born when Cronus castrated his father Uranus (the father of all gods) and threw his genitalia into the ocean, from this the severed genitalia began to churn, boil, and spill about and from the Aphros (“sea foam”) rose Aphrodite herself, beauty and all. After she rose from the ocean Zeus became afraid that the other gods would fight over for her hand in marriage so he decided that he would appoint a worthy god to take her. In doing so he chose his son Hephaestus, the most hard working of the twelve Olympians. When Hephaestus heard of this news he was so overwhelmed with the feeling of luck that he made the most extravagant jewelry for Aphrodite. Aphrodite naturally loving the feeling of adoration wore the jewelry, but to Hephaestus disappointment this only strengthened the amount of affection that not only did the other gods give her but mankind also.
Due to intense amount of beauty adultery was common, of all her mortal lovers the most commonly heard one is Adonis. Aphrodite earned Hera’s hatred when Paris, the Prince of Troy, chose Aphrodite over Hera as the winner of a beauty contest. It is said that Aphrodite bribed Paris by promising him the most beautiful female mortal if she was chosen as the winner of the golden apple. This later became what started the Trojan war for the most beautiful woman on Earth happened to be Helen the wife of the King of Sparta.
In different areas of Greece especially in Athens and Corinth her festival dedicated to her is that of the Aphrodisiac. The priestesses represented the goddess herself and sexual intercourse, this did not make the priestesses prostitutes of any sort, but rather it was customary and a form of worship to participate in sexual intercourse. Reproduction in a non-bastardized way is a pagan ritual that represents the birth of everything around us. This is why this festival is held in February which is the beginning of the year and the spring equinox, the planting of the seed, and the birth of a new year.
Aphrodite has many counterparts from different civilizations, her most commonly known counterpart is that of Venus which is her Roman name. She stands for all the same qualities according to the Romans as the Greeks, the only difference is that Cupid is represented as her messenger, the messenger of love. Often times portrayed as an infant with wings flying nude carrying a bow and arrows. At the end of each arrow tip is the shape of a heart, representing that once the message has been delivered it was a message of love.
Lombardi, Anne. “Aphrodite, her power and her art”. Sweet Briar College Dept. of History.