APHRODITÊ - APHRODÍTI - ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ

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8.  Aphrodítî (Aphroditê; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη, ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ. Etym. ἀφρός "foam" + δύτης "diver," the diver rises from the sea, and evoking ἀναδύομαι, "come up from" [especially the sea]. Pronunciation: ah-froh-DEE-tee, roll the 'r' slightly; the d (δέλτα) is pronounced like the soft th in this, not like the hard th in theory.)

Aphrodítî is one of the most important deities of all Ællînismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion, being one of the Twelve Olympian Gods. She is the great Goddess of Armonía (Harmony, Ἁρμονία).


Pándimos Aphrodítî and Ouranía Aphrodítî

According to the mythology presented in Orphic theogony, there are two births of Aphrodítî. First she is born from the castrated genitals of Ouranós (Uranus, Οὐρανός) as they fell into the sea and created a foam [1]. She is, therefore, known as Ouranía (Οὐρανία), the "heavenly" Goddess, she who was born of Ouranós or the Sky.

In the story of the second birth of Aphrodítî, Zefs (Ζεύς) pursues the Goddess Dióhnî (Diônê, Διώνη) [2], but his advances are resisted and his seed falls into the sea, from which later emerges Pándîmos (common or popular, Πάνδημος) Aphrodítî, she who blesses the sexual unions of mortals.

These two mythologies can be seen as revealing two aspects, or two faces, of one Goddess.


"But since there are two Venuses (Ἀφροδίτᾳ), there must of necessity be two loves (Ἔρως). For it is undeniable, that two different Goddesses there are, each of whom is a Venus: one of them elder, who had no mother, and was born only from Uranus (Οὐρανός), or Heaven, her father; she is called the celestial Venus: the other, younger, daughter of Jupiter (Ζεύς) and Dione (Διώνη); and to her we give the name of the vulgar (Πάνδημος) Venus." [3]

Considering this, we can see that Aphrodítî has two general aspects. She is Ouranía, the great mystical Goddess who harmonizes the struggles of Life, the dominion of quarrelsome Árîs (Arês, Ἄρης). Aphrodítî is also Pándîmos, she of the common popular religion, the great Goddess who sanctions the necessary physical unions of the mortal creatures; she fosters and blesses the ǽrohs (eros, ἔρως) of sex (Ἵμερος and the mundane Ἔρωτες), the natural reproductive functions of the humans and the many creatures (but this ǽrohs is not quite the same as the kozmogonic ǽrohs, which is the dominion of the Goddess Íra [Hera, Ήρα]). In our religion, sex or generation is not in any way condemned, but is considered sacred and is protected by the beautiful Goddess.

 

Generalities Concerning Aphrodítî

Who is Aphrodítî? There are many people in our time who love the Goddess because they think she is a great deity of pleasure, but the Neoplatonic philosopher Damáskios (Damascius, Δαμάσκιος) says that the pleasure is simply an accompaniment, where Aphrodítî herself is beauty, beauty both from divine inspiration and of nature. [4]

Aphrodítî, like Poseidóhn (Poseidôn, Ποσειδῶν), is associated with the sea because of the mythology that she was born from the foam which arose from the severed genitals of Ouranós which fell into the ocean, and, thus, the scallop-shell is associated with her.

Aphrodítî is the personification of nature's generative ability. Thus, she is popularly believed to be the Goddess of love and procreation, and thought of as the most beautiful and graceful.

Like the Goddess Íra, Aphrodítî governs and blesses marriage.

Aphrodítî possesses a girdle or belt which has the ability to attract the object of one's desire to the one who wears it.

The poppy flower as well as the rose, myrtle, and the apple are sacred to her. The mîlokydóhnion (mêlocydônion, μηλοκυδώνιον) is the quince, another fruit sacred to Aphrodítî, traditionally given the couple as part of a Greek wedding ceremony. The dove and the swan are birds which are sacred to the Goddess, as well as swallows and sparrows. The tortoise is sacred to Ouranía Aphrodítî (see above) and the ram was sacred to Pándimos Aphrodítî (see above). The planet Venus is named after her.

 

Aphrodítî and Íphaistos


Aphrodítî is said to be married to Íphaistos (Hephaestus, Ἥφαιστος); this is because she beautifies the forms created by the mighty God. In the Orphic fragments the story is told somewhat differently: Íphaistos unites with Aphrodítî, creating the form of the universe and he then mingles with Agläía (Ἀγλαΐα), producing the younger Kháritæs (Charities, Χάριτες) who beautify his work. The Younger Kháritæs are Splendor (Ἀγλαΐα), Good Glory (Εὔκλεια), Abundance (Ευθηνία), Good Fame (Εὐφήμη), and Friendliness (Φιλοφροσύνη). [5]

 

Aphrodítî and Árîs

Also in the mythology, Aphrodítî is amorously tied to Árîs by which they produce Armonía (Harmonia, Ἁρμονία). Armonía, or Harmony, is the result of the necessary struggles which are inherent in Life, the dominion of Árîs, struggles which are harmonized at the Eighth Íkos (oikos or house, οἶκος) by Aphrodítî. Armonía is wedded to Kádmos (Cadmus, Κάδμος), a divine being, a Light Being, the founder of Thívai (Thebes, Θῆβαι) and the first Hero. Armonía and Kádmos produce a child, Sæmǽlî (Semelê, Σεμέλη), who later unites with mighty Zefs (Ζεύς). And when Sæmǽlî is burnt in the famous myth, Zefs retrieves from her body the tiny fetus conceived from the heart of Zagréfs and sews it into his leg. When the gestation period is up, Diónysos (Dionysus, Διόνυσος) the Liberator is born from the leg of Zefs, who reveals to mankind the great Mysteries which free us from the sufferings of the sorrowful circle of births (κύκλος γενέσεως). All this story may be found in the Orphic theogony (See The Sixth King). Thus we can see how in many ways, the great Goddess is deeply involved in the Mysteries of our religion.

 

Aphrodítî, Árîs, and Ádohnis


For this story, we follow that told by Panyásis (Πανυάσις) as recorded in
Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου.

Smýrna (Σμύρνα) was the daughter of Theias (Θείας), king of the Assyrians. According to the mythology, she had angered the Goddess Aphrodítî, who in turn placed an unnatural desire into her heart for her own father. Smýrna tricked him into sleeping with her for twelve nights, but at last he discovered her deception. King Theias was furious and flew into a rage, running at the girl with a sword. Smýrna petitioned the Gods to save her and in answer to her prayer, they transformed her into a myrrh tree. But she had conceived a child, and when the months were up, the trunk split to reveal a beautiful baby boy: Ádônis (Adônis, Ἄδωνις). When Aphrodítî beheld the child she was instantly enamored of his bountiful loveliness. She hid him away in a chest which she gave to Pærsæphónî (Persephonê, Περσεφόνη) for safekeeping. She then implored the Goddess never to open it, but Pærsæphónî was curious and opened the chest. When she looked inside and beheld the beautiful child, she loved him and raised him in her kingdom. When Aphrodítî returned she discovered what had occurred and the two Goddesses quarreled over Ádônis, who was now a strikingly handsome young man. The case was put before Zefs (Ζεύς) and it was decided that each Goddess would be allowed the company of Ádônis for four months of the year and the remaining four months were to be his own. But Ádônis chose to remain with Aphrodítî for these four months also. Later one day, Ádônis was hunting and he was killed by a boar [6]. The boar, it is said, was actually a transformation of Árîs. [7] 

The story of Ádônis has several variants, but this one, perhaps the most familiar, would seem to be most coherent. Aphrodítî, whose pair is Árîs, prepares the ground for the action of the male deity, and the killing by an Olympian God is always symbolic of deification.

 

Aphrodítî in Iconography

In iconography, Aphrodítî is always a Goddess of incomparable beauty and is often depicted naked or partially naked, unlike most of the female Goddesses.

 

"...Venus is naked; since harmony generates beauty, and beauty is not concealed in objects of sensible inspection." [8]

 

Aphrodítî in Orphismós

Aphrodítî rules the eighth Orphic House, the month of Távros (Taurus, Ταύρος) from April 21 to May 20. The Divine Consort of Aphrodítî is Árîs (Ares, Ἄρης) with whom she unites and produces the child Armonía (Harmonia, Ἁρμονία). [9] Thus, the dominion of Aphrodítî at the Eight Íkos (Oikos or House, Οἶκος) is that of Harmony.


The Orphic Hymn to Aphrodíti

Epithets of Aphrodíti


NOTES:

[1] Orphic Fragment 127. (101) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επὶ Κρατύλου Πλάτωνος 406c, (p. 110, 15 Pasqu.): 

μήδεα δ᾿ ἐς πέλαγος πέσεν ὑψόθεν, ἀμφὶ δὲ τοῖσι λευκὸς ἐπιπλώουσιν ἑλίσσετο πάντοθεν ἀφρός· ἐν δὲ περιπλομέναις ὥραις Ἐνιαυτὸς ἔτικτεν παρθένον αἰδοίην, ἥν δὶ παλάμαις ὑπέδεκτο γεινομένην τὸ πρῶτον ὁμοῦ Ζῆλός τ' Ἀπάτη τε.

“The genitals fell down from high into the sea, swirling round about from every side in the bright foam; then, in the circling season the Year begot a venerable maiden; so soon as she was born Zílos (Ζῆλος) and Apáti (Ἀπάτη) together received her into their hands.” (trans. by the author)

See also Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 188.

[2] See Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony: The Fifth King, after the Great Orphic Hymn to Zefs. See also Ἰλιάς Ὁμήρου 5.370 and Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 1.3.1.

[3] Συμπόσιον Πλάτωνος 180.d-e (ῥῆσις Παυσανίου), trans. Thomas Taylor, 1804.

[4] σχόλιον Δαμασκίου επί Φιλήβου Πλάτωνος 1.21.

[5] Kern Orphic fragment 182. (140) σχόλιον Πρόκλου επί Τιμαίου Πλάτωνος 29a (I 333, 2 Diehl).

διὰ δὴ ταῦτα καὶ οἱ θεολόγοι τῶι Ἡφαίστωι τὴν Ἀφροδίτην (fr. 184) συζεύξαντες οὕτως αὐτὸν χαλκεύειν εἰρήκασι τὸ πᾶν (fr. 180), καὶ αὖ ἐξ Ἡφαίστου καὶ Ἀγλαΐας Εὔκλειον καὶ Εὐθένειον ἀπογεννῶσι καὶ Εὐφήμην καὶ Φιλοφροσύνην, αἳ καὶ αὐταὶ τὸ σωματοειδὲς τῶι κάλλει διαπρέπον ἀποτελοῦσι.

“Therefore the theologians yoke Íphaistos with Aphrodíti and proclaim that he in this way forged everything, and again from Íphaistos and Agläía (Ἀγλαΐα), producing Éfkleia (Eucleia, Εὔκλεια) and Efthînía (Euthênia, Ευθηνία) and Efphímî (Euphêmê, Εὐφήμη) and Philophrosýnî (Φιλοφροσύνη), to adorn the material world with beauty.” (trans. by the author)

[6] Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 3.183 Ἀδώνιδος, as numbered in R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma's translation; or as numbered in J.G. Frazier's translation: Book 3.14. 4.

[7] Serv. ad Virg. Ecl. x. 18; Ptolem. Hephaest. i. p. 306, ed. Gale (as cited by William Smith’s Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology). Some versions of the story say that the boar was actually other deities, but from an Orphic perspective, Árîs makes the most sense.

[8] Sallustius: On the Gods and the World, Chap. 6 Concerning the Super-Mundane and Mundane Gods, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1793.

[9] Ἱκέτιδες Αἰσχύλου 659-666; trans. Herbert Weir Smyth, 1922:
 

"Never may pestilence empty this city of its men nor strife stain the soil of the land with the blood of slain inhabitants. But may the flower of its youth be unplucked, and may Ares, the partner of Aphrodite's bed, he who makes havoc of men, not shear off their bloom." 

Θεογονία Ἡσιόδου 933, trans. H.G. Evelyn-White 1914:

"Also Cytherea (Ἀφροδίτη) bare to Ares the shield-piercer Panic and Fear, terrible gods who drive in disorder the close ranks of men in numbing war, with the help of Ares, sacker of towns: and Harmonia whom high-spirited Cadmus made his wife." 



The story of the birth of the GodsOrphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.
How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods.


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PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this website, you will find fascinating stories about our Gods. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally. A literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Rhapsodic Theogony.
We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology
Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.


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