Venus, Phoenician, Roman, Greek


Aphrodite Legend








Aphrodite Comes to Cyprus

(The Birth of Venus)

by Sandro Botticelli

c. 1485

 Aphrodite,  the goddess of love, beauty and fertility, was revered by the Phoenicians from at least 3200 BC.  She was distinguished from the other leading goddess of the Near East -- and in Greece later -- primarily because those others wore armor and fought in battle.  The other goddesses included the Greek Athena (in full armor in the Parthenon), and the Canaanite Astarte.

Aphrodite's nature reflected the peaceful Phoenician society in which she developed.  She was the heart of their community, even when other deities later joined her.  The people there referred to her simply as "Our Lady."  She had an intimate relationship with Adonis near Byblos in Lebanon.

The sea-going Phoenicians brought Aphrodite with them to islands across the Mediterranean such as Cythera, and then to Cyprus.  Many years later, when classical Greece arose and Cyprus became that society's valued source of copper, the legend of beautiful Aphrodite came to mainland Greece.

This is the most famous description of her birth.  It occurred following a dispute between Uranus -- father of the gods -- and his son Chronos, who castrated him.

The genitals, cut off with adamant

And thrown from land into the stormy sea,

Were carried for a long time on the waves.

White foam surrounded the immortal flesh,

And in it grew a girl. At first [she] touched

On holy Cythera, from there [she] came

To Cyprus, circled by the waves. And there

The goddess came forth, lovely, much revered,

And grass grew up beneath her delicate feet.

Her name is Aphrodite among men

And gods, because she grew up in the foam. . . .


          Theogony 185-195

After her arrival at Cyprus, Aphrodite appeared in many of the Greek epics and legends.  Later she also appeared in the epics of the Romans, who called her Venus.  She was always the beautiful goddess of love.

A richer discussion of the Phoenician society and times in which Aphrodite acquired her primary characteristics and attributes is found in Chapters 3 - 14 of the book Phoenician Secrets: Exploring the Ancient Mediterranean.

Aphrodite of Capua

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