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Form: Lat. Venus.

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The Greek goddess of love. Her attributes combine, with Hellenic conceptions, a great many features of Eastern, especially Phoenician, origin, which the Greeks must have grafted on to their native notions in very old times. This double nature appears immediately in the contradictory tales of her origin. To the oldest Greeks she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione (and is sometimes called that name herself); yet from a very early time she appears as Aphro-geneia, the "foamborn" (see URANUS), as Anadyomene, "she who rises" out of the sea, and steps ashore on Cyprus, which had been colonized by Phoenicians time out of mind; even as back as Homer she is Kypris, the Cyprian. The same transmarine and Eastern origin of her worship is evidenced by the legend of the isle of Cythera, on which she was supposed to have first landed out of a sea-shell. Again, the common conception of her as goddess of love limits her agency to the sphere of human life. But she is, at the same time, a power of nature, living and working in the three elements of air, earth, and water. As goddess of the shifting gale and changeful sky, she is Aphrodite Urania, the "heavenly," and at many placesin Greece and Asia her temples crowned the heights and headlands; witness the citadels of Thebes and Corinth, and Mount Eryx in Sicily. As goddess of storm and lightning, she was represented armed, as at Sparta and Cythera; and this perhaps explains why she was associated with Are (Mars) both in worship and in legend, and worshipped as a goddess of victory. The moral conception of Aphrodite Urania as goddess of the higher and purer love, especially wedded love and fruitfulness, as opposed to mere sensual lust, was but slowly developed in the course of ages. As goddess of the sea and maritime traffic, especially of calm seas and prosperous voyages, she was widely worshipped by sailors and fishermen at ports and on seacoasts, often as the goddess of calm, while Poseidon was the god of disturbance Next, as regards the life of the earth, she is the goddess of gardens and groves, of Spring and its bounties, especially tender plants and flowers, as the rose and myrtle; hence, as the fruitful and bountiful, she was worshipped most of all at that season of the year in which her birth from the sea was celebrated at Paphos in Cyprus (comp. cut). But to this, her time of joyful action, is opposed a season of sorrow, when her creations wither and die: a sentiment expressed in her inconsolable grief for her beloved ADONIS (q.v.), the symbol of vegetation perishing in its prime. In the life of gods and men, she shows her power as the golden, sweetly smiling godess of beauty and love, which she knows to kindle or to keep away. She outshines all the goddesses in grace and loveliness; in her girdle she wears united all the magic charms that can bewitch the wisest man and subdue the very gods. Her retinue consists of Eros (Cupid), the Hours, the Graces, Peitho (persuasion), Pothos and Himeros (personifications of longing and yearning). By uniting the generations in the bond of love, she becomes a goddess of marriage and family life, and the consequent kinship of the whole community. As such she had formerly been worshipped at Athens under the name of Pandemos (- all the people's), as being a goddess of the whole country. By a regulation of Solon, the name acquired a very different sense, branding her as goddess of prostitution; then it was that the new and higher meaning was imported into the word Urania. In later times, the worship of Aphrodite as the goddess of mere sensual love made rapid strides, and in particular districts assumed forms more and more immoral, in imitation of the services performed to love-goddesses in the East, especially at Corinth, where large bands of girls were consecrated as slaves to the service of the gods and the practice of prostitution. And later still, the worship of Astarte, the Syrian Aphrodite, performed by eunuchs, spread all over Greece. In the Greek myths Aphrodite appears occasionally as the wife of Hephaestus. Her love adventures with Ares are notorious. From these sprang Eros and Anteros, Harmonia, the wife of Cadmus, and Deimos and Phobos (fear and alarm), attendants on their father. By Anchises she was the mother of Eneas. The head-quarters of her worship were Paphos, Amathus, and Idalion (all in Cyprus), Cnidus in Dorian Asia Minor, Corinth, the island of Cythera, and Eryx in Sicily. As mother of Harmonia, she was a guardian deity of Thebes. Among plants, the myrtle, the rose, and the apple were specially sacred to her as goddess of love; amongst animals, the ram, he-goat, bare, dove, sparrow, and other creatures of amorous nature (the ram and dove being widely-current symbols of great antiquity); as sea-goddess, the swan, mussels, and dolphin; as Urania, the tortoise. In ancient art, in which Aphrodite is one of the favourite subjects, she is represented in a higher or lower aspect, according as the artist's aim was to exhibit Urania or the popular goddess of love. In the earlier works of art she usually appears clothed but in later ones more or less undraped; either as rising from the sea or leaving the bath, or (as in later times) merely as an ideal of female beauty. In the course of time the divine element disappeared, and the presentation became more and more ordinary. While the older sculptures show the sturdier forms, the taste of later times leans more and more to softer, weaker outlines. Most renowned in ancient times were the statue at Cnidus by Praxiteles (a copy of which is now at Munich, see fig. 2), and the painting of Aphrodite Anadyomene by Apelles. Of original statues preserved to us, the most famous are the Aphrodite of Melos (Milo, see fig. 3) now at Paris, and that of Capua at Naples, both of which bring out the loftier aspect of the goddess, and the Medicean Venus at Florence, the work of a late Attic sculptor, Cleomenes, in the delicate forms of face and body that pleased a younger age. On the identification of Aphrodite with the Roman goddess of love, see VENUS.

Pictures and Media
CYPRIAN COIN OF CARACALLA With the sacred cone, or symbol of Aphrodite, in a conventional representation of the temple at Paphos.
REPLICA OF APHRODITE OF CNIDUS BY PHAXITELES. (Munich, Glyptothek.)
APHRODITE OF MELOS. (Paris, Lonvre).
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