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Aphrodite | Ἀφροδίτη | Venus

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Aphrodite | Ἀφροδίτη | Venus

Post  Achrelus on Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:43 am

She is the goddess of beauty and love. She was seen also in some of the ancient cities as a goddess of sexual prowess, but this view of Her was variant depending on region.

Erit dies ubi Phoebus redibit et hīc semper manēbit!

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Orphic Perspective: Ἀφροδίτη

Post  Erodius on Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:24 pm

8. Aphrothiti (Aphrodite; Gr. Ἀφροδίτη, ΑΦΡΟΔΙΤΗ. Pronunciation: ah-froh-THEE-tee, roll the 'r' slightly; the d (Dælta) is pronounced like the soft th in this, not like the hard th in theory.) [Latin: Venus. Etruscan: Turan]

Aphrothiti is one of the most important deities of all Hellenismos, being one of the Twelve Olympian Gods. She is the great Goddess of Harmony.

Who is Aphrothiti? 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 Damaskios (Damascius; Gr. Δαμάσκιος), writing in the sixth century C.E., has a different opinion:

"None of the ancients identifies Aphrodite with Pleasure: how do we account for this? Because Aphrodite is the cause of union, of which pleasure is only an accompaniment; and because there is much ugliness in bodily pleasure at least, whereas Aphrodite is beauty, not only the beauty that comes from divine inspiration, but also that of nature." [1]

According to one mythology Aprhothiti is the daughter of Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς) and Diohni (Dione; Gr. Διώνη) and is called Panthimos ("popular" or "vulgar;" Gr. Πάνδημος) Aphrothiti, she who blesses the physical unions of mortals. In another mythology, she was born from the castrated genitals of Ouranos (Uranus; Gr. Οὐρανός) as they fell into the sea, therefore known as Aphrogæneia (Aphrogenia; Gr. Ἀφρογένεια), the "foam-born," or Ourania Aphrothiti, the "heavenly Aphrothiti." These can be seen as two aspects, or two faces, of one Goddess. (See below the brief essay by Proklos)

"But since there are two Venuses (ed. Aphrothiti), there must of necessity be two loves (ed. Ærohs or Eros; Gr. 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 (ed. Ouranos), or Heaven, her father; she is called the celestial Venus: the other, younger, daughter of Jupiter (ed. Zefs) and Diohn; and to her we give the name of the vulgar Venus." [2]

Aphrothiti is not merely the Goddess of desire; her influence extends to marriage and fertility, as well as other attributes, such as the Goddess of the sea. She has been depicted as married to Iphaistos (Hephaistus; Gr. Ἥφαιστος) but amorously tied to Aris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης). The mythology whereby Aphrothiti gives birth to Armonia (Harmonia; Gr. Ἁρμονία) with Aris as father is particularly significant as it reveals her most profound dominion.

In iconography, Aphrothiti is always a Goddess of incredible 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." [3]

Accompanying her are the scallop shell, the apple, the dove, and the mirror.
Myrtle is sacred to Aphrothiti.

The Orphic Hymn to Aphrothiti:
Heav'nly, illustrious, laughter-loving queen,
Sea-born, night-loving, of an awful mien;
Crafty, from whom necessity first came,
Producing, nightly, all-connecting dame:
'Tis thine the world with harmony to join, 5
For all things spring from thee, O pow'r divine.
The triple Fates are rul'd by thy decree,
And all productions yield alike to thee:
Whate'er the heav'ns, encircling all, contain,
Earth fruit-producing, and the stormy main, 10
Thy sway confesses, and obeys thy nod,
Awful attendant of the Brumal God:
Goddess of marriage, charming to the sight,
Mother of Loves, whom banquetings delight;
Source of persuasion, secret, fav'ring queen, 15
Illustrious born, apparent and unseen:
Spousal, Lupercal, and to men inclin'd,
Prolific, most-desir'd, life-giving, kind:
Great sceptre-bearer of the Gods, 'tis thine,
Mortals in necessary bands to join; 20
And ev'ry tribe of savage monsters dire
In magic chains to bind, thro' mad desire.
Come, Cyprus-born, and to my pray'r incline,
Whether exalted in the heav'ns you shine,
Or pleas'd in od'rous Syria to preside, 25
Or o'er th' Egyptian plains thy car to guide,
Fashion'd of gold; and near its sacred flood,
Fertile and fam'd to fix thy blest abode;
Or if rejoicing in the azure shores,
Near where the sea with foaming billows roars, 30
The circling choirs of mortals, thy delight,
Or beauteous nymphs, with eyes cerulean bright,
Pleas'd by the dusty banks renown'd of old,
To drive thy rapid, two-yok'd car of gold;
Or if in Cyprus (with) thy fam'd mother fair, 35
Where nymphs unmarried praise thee ev'ry year,
The loveliest nymphs, who in the chorus join,
Adonis pure to sing and thee divine;
Come, all-attractive to my pray'r inclin'd,
For thee, I call, with holy, reverent mind.

In the above translation, Thomas Taylor uses the word brumal in line 12, a rather colorful translation of Vakkhio (Gr. Βάκχοιο) or Vakkhan (Bacchan). Brumal is an archaic term referring to the shortest day, i.e., the winter solstice, therefore here meaning "wintry." The winter season is when we find the many festivals of Dionysos.

The hymn goes on to say that she is the "Mother of Loves" (line 14). The Ærohtæs (Erotes; Gr. Ἔρωτες), Æros (Eros = Attraction; Gr. Ἔρως), Antærohs (Anteros = Requited Love; Gr. Ἀντέρως), Imæros (Himeros = Desire; Gr. Ἵμερος), and Pothos (Passion; Gr. Πόθος), can be seen as emanations of the primal Æros and are depicted in iconography as winged children or handsome youths.
In the Orphic hymn To Aris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης) at line 11, the text implores Aris:

"To lovely Venus (Kyprithos; Gr. Κύπριδος) and to Bacchus (Gr. Λῠαῖος = deliverer, epithet of Vakkhos) yield." [5]

In the Greek, this hymn does not actually use the name Aphrothiti (Venus), but uses her epithet, Kypris (Cyprus, the birthplace of Venus; Κύπριδος in context; sg. fem. gen. of Κύπρις). It is appropriate that she would be mentioned in a hymn to Aris, as they are Divine Consorts of one another.

Aphrothiti rules the eighth Orphic House, the month of Tafros (Taurus; Gr. Ταύρος) from April 21 to May 20. The Divine Consort of the Goddess Aphrothiti is Aris (Ares; Gr. Ἄρης), with whom she unites and produces the child Armonia (Harmonia; Gr. Ἁρμονία). [6] Thus, the dominion of Aphrothiti at the Eight Ikos (= House = Oikos; Gr. Οἶκος) is that of Harmony: she perfects and harmonizes the forms, producing Armonia, the soul who has been harmonized of the internal battles of Aris. Armonia is united with Kadmos (Cadmus; Gr. Κάδμος). They produce the child Sæmæli (Semele; Gr. Σεμέλη) [7] who, after uniting with Ypatos (= "Supreme;" Gr. Ὕπατος) Zefs (Zeus; Gr. Ζεύς), produce the child Dionysos (Dionysus; Gr. Διόνυσος). [8] This is symbolic that all those souls who reach divinity accept the influence of Zefs at the Ikos, that of Aphrothiti, and, from this perspective (only), all souls who become Gods may be called Dionysi. [9]

Aphrothiti from Proklos (Proclus; Gr. Πρόκλος): [10]

"That from sportive conceptions about the Gods, it is possible for those to energize entheastically (ed. ænthæastikos, i.e. in a divinely inspired manner; Gr. ενθεαστικως), or according a divinely inspired energy, who apply themselves to things in a more intellectual manner. Thus for instance, according to the material conceptions of the multitude, Venus (ed. Aphrodite) derives her origin from foam; and foam corresponds to seed. Hence according to them the pleasure arising from this in coition is Venus. Who however, is so stupid, as not to survey primary and eternal natures, prior to such as are last and corruptible? I will therefore unfold the divine conception respecting Venus.

They say then that the first Venus was produced from twofold causes, the one as that through which, co-operating with her progression, as calling forth the prolific power of the father, and imparting it to the intellectual orders; but Heaven (ed. Ouranos; Gr. Οὐρανός) as the maker and cause unfolding the Goddess into light, from his own generative abundance. For whence could that which congregates different genera, according to one desire of beauty, receive its subsistence except from the synochical (ed. the meaning likely from synochical, i.e. holding together) power of Heaven (ed. Ouranos)? From the foam therefore of his own prolific parts thrown into the sea, Heaven (ed. Ouranos) produced this Goddess, as Orpheus (ed. Orphefs; Gr. Ὀρφεύς) says. But the second Venus, Jupiter produces from his own generative powers, in conjunction with Dione (Diohni; Gr. Διώνη): and this Goddess likewise proceeds from foam, after the same manner with the more ancient Venus, as Orpheus evinces. These Goddesses therefore differ from each other, according to the causes of their production, their orders and their powers. For she that proceeds from the genitals of Heaven (ed. Ouranos) is supermundane, leads upwards to intelligible beauty, is the supplier of an unpolluted life, and separates from generation. But the Venus that proceeds from Dione governs all the co-ordinations in the celestial world and the earth, binds them to each other, and perfects their generative progression, through a kindred conjunction. These divinities too, are united with each other through a similitude of subsistence: for they both proceed from generative powers; one from that of the connectedly-containing power of Heaven (ed. Ouranos), and the other from Jupiter the Demiurgus (Dimiourgos or Demiurge; Gr. Δημιουργός) . But the sea signifies an expanded and circumscribed life; its profundity, the universally-extended progression of such a life; and its foam, the greatest purity of nature, that which is full of prolific light and power, and that which swims upon all life, and is as it were its highest flower."


[1] Damaskios (Gr. Δαμάσκιος) On the Philivos (Philebus; Gr. Φίληβος) i.21. trans. L. G. Westerink, first published in 1959 by New Holland Publishing. We are using the revised third edition from 2010 published by Prometheus Trust (Wiltshire UK), p. 14.

[2] Platohn Symposiun (The Banquet) 180d, Speech of Pafsanias; trans. Thomas Taylor, 1804; found here in The Works of Plato, Vol. III published by The Prometheus Trust, Somerset UK, in 1996, Vol. XI of The Thomas Taylor Series (TTS XI) p. 501.

[3] Sallust(ius) On the Gods and the World, Chap. 6 Concerning the Super-Mundane and Mundane Gods, trans. Thomas Taylor, 1793, London: Printed for Edward Jeffrey, Pall Mall, p. 30.

[4] Orphefs (Orpheus) Hymn To Aphrothiti (Venus) LV (In the first publication of Taylor's translation, this hymn was numbered LIV), trans. Thomas Taylor and published 1792; here in the 1824 version as found in Hymns and Initiations published by Prometheus Trust (Somerset, UK) pp. 116-117.

There are two differences between the 1792 version and that found here. First, line 25 originally read:

Or pleas'd in Syria's temple to preside

...and has been replaced with:

Or pleas'd in od'rous Syria to preside

Line 35 originally read:

Or if in Cyprus with thy mother fair

...and has been replaced with:

Or if in Cyprus (with) thy fam'd mother fair

Lines 36 and 37 originally read:

Where married females praise thee ev'ry year,
And beauteous virgins in the chorus join

...and have been replaced with:

Where nymphs unmarried praise thee ev'ry year,
The loveliest nymphs, who in the chorus join

[5] Orphefs (Orpheus) Hymn To Aris (Ares or Mars) LXV (In the first publication of Taylor's translation, this hymn was numbered LXIV), trans. Thomas Taylor and published 1792; here in the 1824 version as found in Hymns and Initiations published by Prometheus Trust (Somerset, UK) pp. 130.

[6] "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."
(Aeschylus' The Suppliant Women 659-666; trans. Herbert Weir Smyth, 1922)

"Also Cytherea (ed. Aphrothiti) 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."
(Isiothos [Hesiod] Theogonia 933, trans. H.G. Evelyn-White 1914; found here in the 1936 Harvard [Cambridge, MA USA]-Heinemann [London, England] Loeb Classical Library edition, on p. 149)

[7] "And Harmonia, the daughter of golden Aphrodite, bare to Cadmus Ino and Semele and fair-cheeked Agave and Autonoe whom long haired Aristaeus wedded, and Polydorus also in rich-crowned Thebe."
(Ibid. Isiothos Theogonia 975, H.G. Evelyn-White p. 151)

"Kadmos made a brilliant marriage, if, as the Greek legend says, he indeed took to wife a daughter of Aphrodite and Ares. His daughters too have made him a name; Semele was famed for having a child by Zeus, Ino for being a divinity of the sea." (Pausanias Description of Greece, Book IX Boeotia V.2; trans. W.H.S. Jones, 1935; found on p.191, vol. IV, of the 1961 William Heineman [London England] Harvard Univ. Press [Cambridge MA] Loeb Classical Library edition)

"Me too hath the Muse raised up for Hellas as a chosen herald of wise words, who am proud that my race and my home are in Thebes the city of chariots, where of old the story telleth how Cadmus by high design won sage Harmonia, as his wedded wife, who obeyed the voice of Zeus, and became the mother of Semele famed among men."
(Pindar's Dithyramb Herakles the Bold 25-30, trans. J. E. Sandys, 1915; found on p. 561 of Pindar in the 1968 edition published by William Heinemann [London England] Harvard Univ. Press, Loeb Classical Library edition)

[8] "And Semele, daughter of Cadmus was joined with him [ed. Zeus] in love and bare him a splendid son, joyous Dionysos,--a mortal woman an immortal son. And now they both are Gods."
(Isiothos Theogonia 940, Evelyn-White p.149)

"For some say, at Dracanum; and some, on windy Icarus; and some, in Naxos, O Heaven-born, Insewn; and others by the deep-eddying river Alpheus that pregnant Semele bare you to Zeus the thunder-lover."
(Homeric Hymn I,To Dionysos, trans. H.G. Evelyn-White 1914; found here in the 1936 Harvard [Cambridge, MA USA]-Heinemann [London, England] Loeb Classical Library edition, on p. 287)

Zefs (Zeus) fathered "Liber (ed. Dionysos) by Semele, the daughter of Cadmus and Harmonia."
(Hyginus' Fabulae, 155 Jupiter's Children, translated by R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma, 2007, in the title Apollodorus' Library and Hyginus' Fabulae, Hackett Publishing [Indianapolis Cambridge MA USA], p.150)

[9] While any soul which becomes deified by the Gods may be called a Dionysos, not all Gods are the true Dionysos, but only those which have been deified by Zefs (Zeus) at the Nine House of Apollo.

[10 Extract from the Manuscript Scolia of Proklos On the Kratylus of Plato, found in The Theology of Plato: Proclus, trans. Thomas Taylor, Prometheus Trust [Somerset UK], Vol. VIII of The Thomas Taylor Series, p. 687. Thomas Taylor, who lived from 1758 to 1835, wrote according to the scholastic custom of his time: he used the Latin names for the deities rather than the Greek.
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"O Best of Gods, blest daimon crown'd with fire . . . hear, and from punishment my soul absolve, the punishment incurr'd by pristine guilt, thro' Lethe's darkness and terrene desire: and if for long-extended years I'm doom'd in these drear realms Heav'n's exile to remain, O grant me soon the necessary means to gain that good which solitude confers on souls emerging from the bitter waves of fraudful Hyle's black, impetuous flood!"
-Iulianic Hymn to Apollon-Helios, ll. 65-106

"Having come for punishment, one must be punished. One must not pull apart the god within oneself."
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All hear, none aid you, and few understand."
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