After hitting the Bible pretty hard, let’s move on to lighter fare. I have been putting off a deep analysis of the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Every treatment I’ve seen of her in articles, film, and fiction has tended to treat her as somewhat vapid and very one-dimensional, but that portrayal is similar to many analyses of Zeus. However, like Zeus, when we look at the totality of her myths, a bigger, more revealing picture of her begins to emerge.
Aphrodite has two birth myths, which is not unusual for the Olympians, really. The first is that she is the child of Zeus and Dione, a fairly mundane story no different than the births of most other Olympian deities.
The second, however, is much more interesting, and definitely not a typical story. When Cronus dethroned his father, Uranus, he also castrated him, and tossed the leftover bits into the ocean. Now, if we remember, Uranus’s wife was Gaea, the earth. So there in the ocean, Uranus’s leftover bits combined in the sea and sea foam to make Aphrodite.
She emerges from the ocean on the half shell. The old Hercules television show cheekily has her windsurf the shell into the shore, which actually seems fitting. I believe this is the story that more closely matches Aphrodite’s nature. She is the goddess of love, the act of love, and desire. She was created out of a pure sex act. There are no feelings or anything else involved.
It’s also important to note that she is of titanic origin in this story rather than Olympian. This makes her the sister of Cronus and Zeus’s aunt. However, Zeus adopts her as his daughter, putting her on part with his other children, yet we’ll see that titanic, wild nature of Aphrodite manifest often throughout her stories.