Reader's Encyclopedia

Aphrodite

The Greek goddess of erotic love and marriage. Although Homer calls Aphrodite a daughter of Zeus and Dione, the more common story has her born from the foam that gathered about the severed parts of the emasculated Uranus. She is said to have first stepped ashore on the island of Cythera, just off the coast of Laconia, hence her epithet Cytherea. Her name was identified by the Greeks with the word aphros, "seafoam." As an Olympian deity, she was the wife of Hephaestus but the lover of Ares. A familiar story about her tells how Hephaestus trapped her in bed with Ares, by throwing a delicate golden net over them, and displayed their embarrassment to the other gods. In late Greek myth, Aphrodite was called the mother of Eros.

It is generally agreed that Aphrodite was originally an Asiatic goddess similar to Ishtar. An ancient center of her worship was the island of Cyprus, for which she was often called Cypris. In Rome, she was identified with Venus. See Adonis.

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