6. mythological tour of the solar system 3: venus/aphrodite

venus copy

Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/visions-of-the-future/

img_6482The third stop on our Mythological Tour of the Solar System is Venus (Greek goddess Aphrodite). We take a look at the origins of this mysterious goddess of sexuality.

Be advised, this episode includes discussion of sex in mythological contexts.

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Hesiod Theogony 188-206

As soon as he cut off the genitals with adamant,
he threw them from land into the turbulent sea;
they were carried over the sea a long time, and white
foam arose from the immortal fresh; within a girl
grew; first she came to holy Cythera, and
next she came to wave-washed Cyprus.
A revered and beautiful goddess emerged, and
grass grew under her supple feet. Aphrodite
[foam-born goddess and well-crowned Clytherea]
gods and men name her, since in foam she grew;
and Cytherea, since she landed at Cypher;
and Cyprogenea, since she was born in wave-beat Cyprus;
and “Philommeides,” since she appeared from the genitals.
Eros accompanied her, and fair Longing followed,
when first she was born and went to join the gods.
She has such honour from the first, and this is her
portion among men and immortal gods:
maidens’ whispers and smiles and deceptions,
sweet pleasure and sexual love and tenderness.
(Trans. Richard Caldwell)

 

Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite 53-74
So he cast in her heart sweet longing for Anchises,
who, at that time, like the immortals in build, was tending cattle
on the lofty peaks of MT. Ida rich in springs.
Then indeed, seeing him, laughter-loving Aphrodite
was struck with love, and astounding desire seized her heart.
To Cyprus she went and entered her fragrant temple
at Paphos where her sacred precinct was and her fragrant altar.
There she went inside and shut the gleaming doors.
And the Graces bathed her and pointed her
with ambrosial olive oil, such as is poured over the gods who are forever,
divinely sweet, which was made fragrant for her.
Having clothed herself well in all her beautiful robes
adorned with gold, laughter-loving Aphrodite
hastened to Troy, leaving behind sweet-smelling Cyprus,
swiftly making her way high up among the clouds.
She came to Ida rich in springs, mother of beasts,
and went straight to the shepherd’s hut across the mountain.
And fawning after her leapt grey wolves and flashing-eyed lions,
bears and swift leopards hungry for deer.
Seeing them she rejoiced in her heart
and cast longing in their breasts, and together they all
lay down in pairs in their shadowy lairs.
(Trans. Susan Shelmerdine)

 

Euripides Hippolytus 1-23

I am powerful and not without a name among mortals
and within the heavens. I am called the goddess Cypris.
Of those who dwell within Pontus
and the boundaries of Atlas and see the light of the sun,
I treat well those who revere my power,
but I trip up those who are proud towards me.
For this principle holds among the race of the gods also:
they enjoy being honoured by mortals.
I shall now show you the truth of these words:
Theseus’ son, Hippolytus, the Amazon’s offspring,
reared by pure Pittheus–
he alone of the citizens of this land of Trozen
says that I am by nature the most vile of divinities.
He spurns the bed and doesn’t touch marriage,
but donors Apollo’s sister, Artemis, the daughter of Zeus,
considering her the greatest of divinities.
Always consorting with the virgin through the green wood,
he rids the land of beasts with swift dogs,
having come upon a more than mortal companionship.
I don’t begrudge them these things; why should I?
But I will punish Hippolytus this day
for the wrongs he has done me.
(Trans. Michael Halleran)

 


Selected Sources

Theogony. Trans. Richard Caldwell & Stephanie Nelson. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 2009.

Homeric Hymns. Trans. Susan Shelmerdine. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 1995. Print.

Euripides. Hippolytus. Trans. Michael Halleran. Ed. Stephen Esposito. Newburyport MA: Focus Publishing, 2004.

Nasa.gov “Venus” (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/venus )

Nasa.gov “Your Weight in Space” (http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/kids/index.cfm?Filename=puzzles)


Shout Outs & Notes

Check out The Endless Knot (http://www.alliterative.net) podcast by Mark Sundaram and Aven McMaster.

Gods Behaving Badly (http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/marie-phillips/gods-behaving-badly/9780316067638/) by Marie Phillips, 2008.


 

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This week’s theme music: “Super Hero” by King Louie’s Missing Monuments from the album “Live at WFMU” (2011). Used under Creative Commons license. Music used under Creative Commons license and available from Free Music Archive.

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