The Greek goddess
of beauty and love, Aphrodite, is a romantic figure in mythology. She is arguably the most beautiful goddess on Olympus, but don’t let her looks fool you – Aphrodite is anything but peaches and cream.
Mythology tells different tales of the same events as many of the ancient stories were spoken in different parts of the world long before they were written down. But many of the stories of Aphrodite tell the same tale. She was beautiful, but she was jealous. In one instance, Aphrodite realized that a mortal girl, Pysche, was much too beautiful for her liking. So she told her son, Eros, to help Pysche fall in love
with the ugliest man on Earth.Now Pysche had done nothing but peacefully live her life up to this point – she was simply too beautiful for Aphrodite to bear.
Eros went on his mother’s errand, but fell in love with Pysche instead. With the help of an oracle and the West Wind, he kept Pysche safe from his mother until one day Psyche realized who he was. He was angry and left and Pysche traveled the world looking for him. She realized Aphrodite might be the best bet to find her son, so she went to the goddess’ temple for help.
Three times Aphrodite gave Pysche tasks to complete that were completely impossible for a mortal. And three times Eros or another god helped Pysche which also saved her life. Finally Aphrodite gave up and let the two marry, but not before sending Psyche to man eating sheep, the underworld, and allowing a trick to almost overcome her. I wonder what she would have done if Pysche had actually deserved her hate.
Aphrodite was easily the most beautiful of the goddesses on Mount Olympus, and all the gods wanted to be with her (married or not.) Aphrodite was amused and enjoyed shunning them (at least for awhile), so Zeus, king of the gods, grew angry when she denied him and gave her to Hephaestus, the crippled blacksmith to wed. Aphrodite was angry, but didn’t let her marriage stop her from doing whatever else she wanted. And apparently all she wanted to do was openly spend time with Ares the war god and later many others – without care to her husband’s feelings. Aphrodite had many, many children, but only a handful of those were with her children with her husband. You can do the math.
Aphrodite the Temptress
When a contest sprung up between some of the goddesses on Mount Olympus, a young man named Paris was asked to judge who was the fairest among them. Each goddess offered a bribe, but Aphrodite’s was the most enchanting to Paris. Aphrodite promised Paris the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. This would be all well and good, but Helen was already married to the most powerful man in the world.
Acting under Aphrodite’s instructions, Paris stole Helen from her husband and took her over the sea. This effectively began the longest and bloodiest way of Greek mythology – the Trojan War. The entire war was fought over a girl Aphrodite had no right to give away, but did anyway so that she could be crowned the most beautiful goddess. Ego anyone?
Like most of the gods, Aphrodite has an amazing temper. In one story, Aphrodite grows angry with a young man during some games. She causes his horses to go crazy and overturn his chariot. The young man is thrown to the ground. Then, because she can, Aphrodite has the mad horses kill and eat their owner. In another story, a group of women dare to compare their beauty to Aphrodite’s. In retaliation for such cheek, the goddess makes each of the women grow an impressive set of cow’s horns. Aphrodite may have been beautiful on the outside, but it’s very clear that sometimes beauty is only skin deep.