Aphrodite is one of the most famous figures of Greek mythology. Because
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture,1 she was desired by
nearly all of the Greek gods. Aphrodite was one of the twelve main gods on Mt.

Olympus,2 and she was the most powerful goddess when it came to members of the
opposite sex.

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There are many origins to Aphrodite's birth. Some of them are:
1) She arose full-grown out of the foam of the sea,
2) She is the daughter of Zeus and Dionne,
3) She is the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, which would make her a Titaness, or
4) She is the daughter of Titans Oceanus and Tethys, making her an Oceanid.3
The most common origin of her birth is her being foam-born, which is what her
name means. This origin says that Aphrodite arose nude and full-grown out of the foam
of the sea and riding into the shore of Cythera on a scallop shell. She found Cythera to be
too small of an island, so she went to live in Paphos, in Cyprus, which is still the principal
seat of her worship.4
Although Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, she had a magic girdle
that she wore that made everyone fall in love with her. She could hardly ever be
persuaded to lend it to anyone. Since Aphrodite had the magic girdle and was so
beautiful, all of the gods fell in love with her.
All of the goddesses were jealous of Aphrodite because all of the gods loved her
instead of the other goddesses. Because of this, Zeus arranged a marriage for her with
Hephaestus, the lame smith-god.5 Aphrodite didn't really mind this marriage arrangement,
though, because she thought Hephaestus would never notice her having marital affairs.6
Hephaestus knew nothing of deception until, one night, he caught his wife and
Ares, the god of war, making love at Ares' home. Hephaestus went back to his home very
Hephaestus was so angry that he decided to get revenge on Aphrodite by literally catching
the while they were making love. He got out a bronze hunting-net and attached to the
posts and sides of the bed. He told Aphrodite that he was to a short holiday trip to
Lemnos. Aphrodite did not offer to go with him. When Hephaestus left, she sent
hurriedly for Ares and the two immediately went to sleep together. When they went to
bed, they got tangled in the net.8
At dawn, Hephaestus returned from his trip. He summoned all of the gods
together so they could see what Aphrodite and Ares did. Hephaestus thought that, by
Zeus seeing how Aphrodite deceived him, Zeus would return all of the marriage gifts.
Instead, Zeus told Hephaestus that this should handled by him and Aphrodite instead of
being made a public affair, therefore Zeus did not return the marriage gifts.9
After Aphrodite had been publicly humiliated, she returned to Paphos and renewed
her virginity to the sea. Soon afterwards, Hermes confessed his love for her, and she slept
with him. She eventually bore a double-sexed child name Hermaphroditus.

Poseidon, like Hermes, also confessed his love for her, and she bore him two sons
named Rhodus and Herophilus. Later Aphrodite also slept with Dionysus in which she
bore a deformed son by him. The deformity was caused by Hera; she did this in
disapproval of Aphrodite's permiscuity.10
Later, Zeus wanted to humiliate Aphrodite by making her fall in love with a mortal
named Anchises. He was a handsome man, and he was the King of the Dardanians. One
night Aphrodite visited him without him knowing who she was. When they Parted at
dawn, she revealed her identity and told him not to tell anyone that they had slept

Anchises was terrified when he learned that he had uncovered the nakedness of a
goddess, and he begged her to kill him. She told him that he had nothing to worry about
and that their son would become famous.11
A few days later, Anchises was drinking with one of his friends. His friend asked,
Would you rather sleep with the daughter of so-and-so than with Aphrodite herself?12
Anchises' reply was, No, having slept with both of them, I find the question inept.13
Zeus overheard Anchises boasting, so he threw a thunderbolt at him that would
have killed him immediately, but Aphrodite put her magic girdle in front of him, so the bolt
dropped down at his feet. The shock of the bolt was so strong though, he could never
walk upright again. Aphrodite, soon after bearing his son, lost all interest in Anchises.

One day, the wife of King Cinyrus was foolishly boasting that her daughter Smyrna
was more beautiful than Aphrodite. She heard this insult and got revenge by Smyrna fall
in love with her father and sleep with him. Smyrna got pregnant, and the baby she was
carrying was actually the King's son and his grandson. When the King learned this, he
chased his daughter out of the palace with a sword. Aphrodite saw this and, before he
could do anything, changed her into a tree. When he swung the sword at her, the sword
broke in half, and the infant Adonis came tumbling out.14
Aphrodite, already regretting the trouble she had caused, took Adonis, and put him
in a chest. She gave the chest to Persephone, asking her to hide it in a dark place.
Persephone couldn't stand not knowing what was inside the chest, so she opened the chest
and found Adonis.15
Persephone found Adonis to be a very cute baby, so she took hi into her own
palace to raise him. Aphrodite did not find out about this until Adonis was a grown man.
When she did find out about this though, she immediately went to Persephone's palace to
claim Adonis. Persephone would not give him back to Aphrodite though, because she had
made him her lover. Persephone appealed to Zeus, but Zeus knew that Aphrodite wanted
to have him as her own lover. He refused to settle this case and transferred it to a lower
The court's verdict was that Persephone and Aphrodite should get equal claims to Adonis,
since Aphrodite arranged his birth and Persephone rescued him from the chest. They also
decided that Adonis should get some time to without these goddesses in his life, so they
divided a year up into three equal parts:
1) Four months with Persephone
2) Four months with Aphrodite
3) Four months to be with whomever he wanted to be with.17
Although this is what the court ruled, Aphrodite wore her magic girdle and
persuaded Adonis to let her not only her time with him, and she persuaded him to let her
have his time to himself to be with him.18
Persephone did not agree with this at all. She went to Ares and told him how
angry she was. Ares got jealous of Persephone's true love for Adonis, so he disguised him
self as a wild boar and killed Adonis right in front of Aphrodite.

Aphrodite had two children. She had a son, Golgas, who was the founder of the
Cyprian Golgi. She also had a daughter, Beroe, who was the founder of Beroea in
Thrace. Some also say that, instead of Dionysus, Adonis was the father of her son

There is a myth called the Judgement of Paris that has to do with Paris, the son of
Priam and Hecuba, having to judge who is the fairest goddess.
This myth starts off at a wedding. Eris threw out a golden apple into the midst of
the female crowd that was inscripted For the Fairest. There was a quarrel between
Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite. Each of the goddesses were claiming that they should get
the apple because they thought themselves to be the fairest. After arguing endlessly, they
eventually agreed to make Paris the settler of their dispute.20
All three of the goddesses offered Paris bribes. Aphrodite offered him lust. Hera
and Athena offered him kingship and victory in war. Paris gave the apple to Aphrodite
and rejected the other goddesses.
Hephaestus was an unattractive Smith-god that was married to Aphrodite.
Hephaestus was the only god who worked or suffered from a physical disability.
Although he was ugly and deformed, Hephaestus was a kind, peace-loving god and he was
popular on Mt. Olympus.
Hephaestus was a muscular man with a thick neck with a hairy chest. He had a
shortened leg and a club foot, and both of his feet facing backwards. Because his legs
were like this, he had to use a crutch to support himself. He had a beard, and he usually
dressed in a ragged sleeveless tunic and a wool hat.21
There is a myth that says Hephaestus was so weakly at birth that his mother, Hera,
dropped him from the top of Mt. Olympus to rid herself of the embarrassment of an ugly
child. He survived this, though, because he fell into the sea and Thetis and Eurynome
saved him. These goddesses took them into their care and he thanked them by making
them all kinds of ornamental and useful items.

After about nine years, Hera met Thetis who was wearing a jewel that Hephaestus
made. Hera asked her where she found the jewel. Thetis hesitated, but Hera forced the
truth out of her.
When Hera found out that she got the jewel from Hephaestus, she immediately
brought him back to Olympus where he could put his talent to a better use. Hera made
him work day and night and she made something of him.22
When Hephaestus moved back to Olympus, he was reconciled with Hera. When
Hera rebelled against Zeus, Hephaestus reproached Zeus for hanging her from the wrists
from heaven. He should have kept silent though, because Zeus just became angry and
threw him from Mt. Olympus for a second time. It took a whole day to fall. He landed on
the island of Lemnos and broke both of his legs. When he went back to Olympus, he
could only walk with help of golden-leg supports.23
Hephaestus was an ill-tempered, ugly god, but he had immense power in his arms
and shoulders. One time, he made a set of golden mechanical women to help him in his
work. The women could talk and complete very difficult tasks. He also made a set of
three-legged tables with golden wheels that could run by themselves.24
Hephaestus' twenty-three three legged tables have much of the same origin
as Gasterocheires who built the Tiryns. The origin of the three-legged tables is that they
represent the three-season years, and they denote the length of his reign was twenty years
According to most myths, the reason Hephaestus and Aphrodite were married is
because Hephaestus asked Zeus for her as a reward for reconciling his parents. Aphrodite
didn't refuse.

Some people think this marraige is appropriate because it is a union of inner and
outer beauty. But many people do not agree because they have nothing in common--her
sensual beauty differs from his ugliness; her playful spirit contrasted with his steady,
serious temperament; her unfaithfulness and irresponsibility, and his workmanship ethics.

Although these two were so different, Hephaestus loved Aphrodite. She didn't
exactly feel the same way about him though. Instead, she had frequent affairs with many
different Gods.
In one particular affair that Aphrodite had with Ares, Hephaestus set up a trap that
caught them while they were making love. Hephaestus summoned all the gods together,
in hope that he make Aphrodite the laughing stock of Olympus. His plan backfired on him
though, actually revealing himself as someone who was attempting to retain the love and
devotion from his wife.25
Now that Hephaestus had embarrassed himself in front of all of the gods,
Hephaestus became unhappy in his marriage to Aphrodite. He lost all interest in her and
turned his attention to Athena who, like Aphrodite, was not in love with him. Hephaestus
fell in love with Athena when she came to him for a spear. When he tried to initiate
intercourse, she rejected him.26
Both Hephaestus and Aphrodite are powerful and popular figures of Greek
mythology. They did many great, and maybe not so great, things during their lifetimes
that are still remembered today. They were both main gods on Mt. Olympus. They may
have not had many great times with each other according to myth, but they were still
significant gods who had great lives. Many people use both of these gods to relate to
things today, and they will be remembered for years and years to come. Their characters
in Greek mythology are very significant and they will not be forgotten anytime soon.