CL_HUM 1060 Lecture 5: Aphrodite

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9 Feb 2017
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Aphrodite
The Birth of Aphrodite
o Sprung from foam (aphros) around Ouranos’s severed genitals
o Alternate tradition: daughter of Zeus and Dione (a sea goddess)
Married to Hephaistos
o Uneasy marriage
Characteristics
o Goddess of love, beauty, sex, desire, and harmony
o Artistic representations often emphasize sensual/sexual aspects
Often depicted riding elegant birds
Swans, geese, doves
Men were typically depicted nude, women were always covered; until the 4th
century when Aphrodite was depicted nude first monumental statue of nude
goddess/woman
Three most common sculpture representations:
Original nude
Aphrodite Callipygous (exposing backside)
Bathing/crouching Aphrodite
Attendants of Aphrodite
o Two groups:
Females
The Graces; usually three, personifications of female charm and
beauty
Males
The Erotes (eros: desire); winged male attendants; young (no beard),
longer hair; (Cupids); personification of love’s swiftness and
fleetingness; later myths reduce the Erotes to one young son, Eros, of
Ares and Aphrodite, always young, mischievous, often scolded by
mother
The Power of Aphrodite
o Sophocles: “In her is everything active (energetic, excitable), everything serene
(calm), everything that leads to violence. She sinks deeps into the hearts of everything
that lives”
o Power over not just humans, but gods, even Zeus
Homeric Hymn 5 (Aphrodite and Anchises)
o Aphrodite has power over all living things except three goddesses
Athena, goddess of war
Artemis, goddess of hunting
Hestia, goddess of the hearth
(Goddesses committed to virginity)
o To put an end to her boasting, Zeus causes Aphrodite to lust after a mortal man (after
she made him fall for too many mortals)
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