Olympian Goddess of Love and Beauty

Aphrodite was the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.


Aphrodite was the goddess of love, eternal youth, beauty and fertility. She represented sexual desire, which could be pleasurable but also dangerous. She was also often worshipped as protector of naval voyages.

Physical Features, Symbols and Character

Aphrodite is depicted as a beautiful young woman, sometimes nude or half-nude.  She represents the absolute harmony in the body

She is accompanied by many smaller goddesses, such as Hebe, Harmonia, the Hours and Peitho (Persuasion), as well as the Charites (Graces).

The swan and the goose were sacred to her.

Aphrodite protects those who worship her but punishes those who defy or oppose her. As the goddess of love, she is repulsed by those who do not seek amorous love but also by sexual perversion.


There are two prevalent myths describing Aphrodite’s birth. According to the first one, related by Hesiod, Cronus castrated his father, Uranus, and cast away the genitals, which finally fell in the sea. As the waves pushed the flesh around, a mass of foam formed, which gradually took the shape of a woman. The foam finally reached Paphos, on Cyprus, and Aphrodite emerged from the sea and onto the shore. The second myth relates that Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus and Dione.

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus, not because of her own desire but as a result of the Olympian gods’ desire to bring Hephaestus to Olympus. They had no offspring together.

In the Judgment of Paris, where he had to choose over the offers of Aphrodite, Athena and Hera, he chose Aphrodite’s offer – the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen, queen of Sparta. Aphrodite rescued Paris from Menelaus, Helen’s husband, by enveloping him in a cloud and taking him back to Troy. Paris eloped Helen, which quickly resulted in the Trojan War. During the war, Aphrodite sided with the Trojans and even appeared in the battlefield, where Diomedes wounded her and Athena ridiculed her.

Aphrodite at a Glance
Roman nameVenus
Rules over - Patron ofLove, Beauty, Pleasure, Procreation
SymbolsDolphin, Rose, Scallop Shell, Myrtle, Dove, Sparrow, Girdle, Mirror, and Swan
Sacred AnimalsDove
ParentsUranus, or Zeus and Dione
ChildrenErotes (Eros and Anteros), Deimos, Phobos, Harmonia, Pothos, Himeros, Hermaphroditos, Aeneas, Eryx, Eunomia, Peitho, The Graces, Priapus, Rhode
AffairsHephaestus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Adonis, Anchises

Aphrodite and Anchises

Aphrodite enjoyed making the gods fall in love with mortals. This annoyed Zeus, who was often the victim, and so he decided to take revenge by causing her to fall in love with a mortal too. Aphrodite fell in love with the handsome young shepherd, Anchises, lay with him and had a son by him, Aeneas.

Aphrodite and Adonis

Adonis, son of Myrrha (or Smyrna) was so beautiful, even as a baby, that Aphrodite fell in love with him, took him and gave him to Persephone to raise him. Persephone, however, fell in love with him too and, once Adonis grew up and was time for him to return to Aphrodite, Persephone refused to let him go. Zeus was summoned to resolve the dispute, and decided Adonis was to spend one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third with Persephone and one third on his own; Adonis decided to give his third to Aphrodite. Not long after, Adonis was wounded by a wild boar while hunting and died.
Aphrodite, on hearing the news, left Olympus and came to earth to grieve. Aphrodite finally persuaded Persephone to let Adonis leave the Underworld six months a year, so the lovers could meet.

Aphrodite and Ares

Aphrodite’s most famous love affair was with Ares. Their offspring were said to be Eros, Anteros, Deimos, Phobos, Adrestia and Harmonia (Harmony). According to Ovid, Helios(the Sun) found out about their affair and told Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s husband. Hephaestus created a bronze net which he threw over the lovers, who were captured and displayed for all the gods to see and ridicule.


Although it is often thought that the name Aphrodite comes from aphrós (ἀφρός, foam), it is quite possible that the name is pre-hellenic.

Classical Sources

Homer’s Iliad,Virgil’s Aeneid, the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, Apollodorus’s Library, Euripides’ Hippolytus, Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Odyssey, Ovid’s Metamorphoses.