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The Birth of Aphrodite

March 28, 2013

The Rock of AphroditePetra Tou Romiou or Aphrodite’s Rock is the mythical birthplace of Aphrodite the goddess of love and beauty. There are two myths of Aphrodite’s birth the first being that she sprang from the foam that came from Uranus’ genitals which Cronus had cut off. The second is that she was the illegitimate child of Zeus and Dione. The major centre of Aphrodite’s cult was Paphos in Cyprus where the ruins of her sanctuary can still be seen today. There is evidence of the worship of a fertility god dating back centuries before Aphrodite became the pre-eminent deity of worship. The island of Cyprus has a number of fantastic archaeological sites, impressive sculptures and artefacts which are well worth seeing.

Just as an aside legend has it that if a person swims around the rock of Aphrodite you will be blessed with eternal beauty.

There are many myths surrounding Aphrodite, a number relate to her promiscuity such as Hephaestus, Aphrodite’s husband, catching her and Ares in bed together, trapping them under an unbreakable net and then publicly embarrassing her. Aphrodite returned to Paphos following this incident to renew her virginity in the sea.

The development of a cult site was exceptionally important and being able to claim such a status as the birth place of a god was invaluable. It would have drawn suppliants to the city not just from the locality but all over which in turn brought economic activity. It was also a great honour and places fought to lay claim to such myths. Dowden (1992:69) provides one such example, ‘Zeus can be born on Mt Lykaion in Arcadia, as we shall see – though Rhea’s girdle was loosened at a certain Mt Thaumasion, also in Arcadia, where her cave was. According doubtless to Cretans, Zeus was born in a cave on Mt Dikte (Ap 1.1.5), and he was reared on Mt Dikte – or in another tradition Mt Ida (depicted in Apollodoros as Rhea giving him to the nymphs Ida and Adrasteia to rear)’. Clearly it can be inferred that such acclaim was exceptionally important to the Ancient Greeks which could explain why there are a number of myths that contradict each other. Furthermore, the mythic birth of a deity has another important significance the transition from one period to the next in human existence (Dowden 1992).

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From → Mythical Figures

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