Aphrodite (// ( listen) af-rə-DY-tee; Greek: Ἀφροδίτη Aphrodite) is the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus; her Roman equivalent is the goddess Venus. Myrtle, roses, doves, sparrows and swans were sacred to her.
|Goddess of love, beauty and sexuality|
Aphrodite Pudica (Roman copy of 2nd century AD), National Archaeological Museum, Athens
|Symbol||Dolphin, Rose, Scallop Shell, Myrtle, Dove, Sparrow, Girdle, Mirror, and Swan|
|Consort||Hephaestus, Ares, Poseidon, Hermes, Dionysus, Adonis, and Anchises|
|Children||Eros, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia, Pothos, Anteros, Himeros, Hermaphroditus, Rhodos, Eryx, Peitho, Eunomia, The Graces, Priapus, Aeneas|
|Parents||Uranus or Zeus and Dione|
|Siblings||Aeacus, Angelos, Apollo, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Dionysus, Eileithyia, Enyo, Eris, Ersa, Hebe, Helen of Troy, Hephaestus, Heracles, Hermes, Minos, Pandia, Persephone, Perseus, Rhadamanthus, the Graces, the Horae, the Litae, the Muses, the Moirai, or the Titans, the Cyclopes, the Meliae, the Erinyes (Furies), the Giants, the Hekatonkheires|
In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite was created from the sea foam (aphros) produced by Uranus's genitals, which had been severed by Cronus. In Homer's Iliad, however, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. In Plato (Symposium, 180e), these two origins are said to be of hitherto separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania (a transcendent, "Heavenly" Aphrodite) and Aphrodite Pandemos (Aphrodite common to "all the people"). She had many other names, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult. Thus she was also known as Cytherea (Lady of Cythera) and Cypris (Lady of Cyprus), both of which claimed to be her place of birth.
In Greek mythology, the other gods feared that Aphrodite's beauty might lead to conflict and war, through rivalry for her favours; so Zeus married her off to Hephaestus. Despite this, Aphrodite followed her own inclinations, and had many lovers — both gods, such as Ares, and men, such as Anchises. She played a role in the Eros and Psyche legend, and was both lover and surrogate mother of Adonis.
Hesiod derives Aphrodite from aphrós (ἀφρός) "sea-foam", interpreting the name as "risen from the foam". Michael Janda, accepting this as genuine, claims the foam birth myth as an Indo-European mytheme. The second part of the compound has been variously analyzed as *-odítē "wanderer" or *-dítē "bright", the latter of which Janda agrees with and interprets the overall meaning as "she who shines from the foam (of the ocean)", supposing the name is a byname of Eos, the dawn goddess. Likewise, Witczak proposes an Indo-European compound *abʰor- "very" and *dʰei- "to shine", also referring to Eos. It has been argued that etymologies based on comparison with Eos are unlikely since Aphrodite's attributes are entirely different from those of Eos or the Vedic deity Ushas. Janda disputes this assumption.
A number of improbable non-Greek etymologies have been suggested in scholarship. One Semitic etymology compares Aphrodite to the Assyrian barīrītu, the name of a female demon that appears in Middle Babylonian and Late Babylonian texts. Hammarström looks to Etruscan, comparing (e)prϑni "lord", an Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as πρύτανις. This would make the theonym in origin an honorific, "the lady". Hjalmar Frisk and Robert Beekes reject this etymology as implausible, especially since Aphrodite actually appears in Etruscan in the borrowed form Apru (from Greek Aphrō, clipped form of Aphrodite).
The medieval Etymologicum Magnum (c. 1150) offers a highly contrived etymology, deriving Aphrodite from the compound habrodíaitos (ἁβροδίαιτος), "she who lives delicately", from habrós and díaita. The alteration from b to ph is explained as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians", despite the fact that the name cannot be of Macedonian origin.
Aphrodite is usually said to have been born near her chief center of worship, Paphos, on the island of Cyprus, which is why she is sometimes called "Cyprian", especially in the poetic works of Sappho. However, other versions of her myth have her born near the island of Cythera, hence another of her names, "Cytherea". Cythera was a stopping place for trade and culture between Crete and the Peloponesus, so these stories may preserve traces of the migration of Aphrodite's cult from the Middle East to mainland Greece.
In the most famous version of her myth, her birth was the consequence of a castration: Cronus severed Uranus' genitals and threw them behind him into the sea. The foam from his genitals gave rise to Aphrodite (hence her name, meaning "foam-arisen"), while the Erinyes (furies), and the Meliae emerged from the drops of his blood. Hesiod states that the genitals "were carried over the sea a long time, and white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew." The girl, Aphrodite, floated ashore on a scallop shell. This iconic representation of Aphrodite as a mature "Venus rising from the sea" (Venus Anadyomene) was made famous in a much-admired painting by Apelles, now lost, but described in the Natural History of Pliny the Elder.
In another version of her origin, she was considered a daughter of Zeus and Dione, the mother goddess whose oracle was at Dodona. Aphrodite herself was sometimes also referred to as "Dione". "Dione" seems to be a feminine form of "Dios", "of Zeus", the genitive form case of Zeus, and could be taken to mean simply "(she) that belongs to Zeus" in a generic sense. Aphrodite might, then, be an equivalent of Rhea, the Earth Mother, whom Homer relocated to Olympus.
Aphrodite is consistently portrayed as a nubile, infinitely desirable adult, having had no childhood. She is often depicted nude. In many of the later myths, she is portrayed as vain, ill-tempered, and easily offended. Although she is married—she is one of the few gods in the Greek Pantheon who is—she is frequently unfaithful to her husband.
According to one version of Aphrodite's story, because of her immense beauty Zeus fears that the other gods will become violent with each other in their rivalry to possess her. To forestall this, he forces her to marry Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. In another version of the story, his mother, Hera casts him off Olympus, deeming him too ugly and deformed to inhabit the home of the gods. His revenge is to trap his mother in a magic throne. In return for her release, he demands to be given Aphrodite's hand in marriage.
Hephaestus is overjoyed to be married to the goddess of beauty, and forges her beautiful jewelry, including the cestus, a girdle (more properly a strophion, an undergarment which accentuated the breast) that makes her even more irresistible to men. Her unhappiness with her marriage causes Aphrodite to seek other male companionship, most often Ares, but also sometimes Adonis.
Aphrodite's husband Hephaestus is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities, but in the Odyssey, she is portrayed as preferring Ares, the volatile god of war, because she is attracted to his violent nature.
Aphrodite is a major figure in the Trojan War legend. She is a contestant in the "Judgement of Paris" (see below), which leads to the war. She had been the lover of the Trojan Anchises, and mother of his son Aeneas. Later, during the war, she saves Aeneas from Diomedes, who wounds her.
The most prominent lover of Aphrodite is Adonis. He is the child of Myrrha, cursed by Aphrodite with insatiable lust for her own father, King Cinyras of Cyprus, after Myrrha's mother bragged that her daughter was more beautiful than the goddess. Driven out after becoming pregnant, Myrrha is changed into a myrrh tree, but still gives birth to Adonis.
Aphrodite finds the baby, and takes him to the underworld to be fostered by Persephone. She returns for him when he is grown and strikingly handsome, but Persephone wants to keep him. Zeus decrees that Adonis will spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third with Persephone, and a third with whomever he wishes. Adonis chooses Aphrodite, and they are constantly together.
Adonis, who loves hunting, is wounded by a wild boar, and bleeds to death. Aphrodite can only mourn over his body. She causes anemones to grow wherever his blood fell, and decrees a festival on the anniversary of his death.
The shade of Adonis is received in the underworld by Persephone. Aphrodite wants to return him to life. Consequently, she and Persephone bicker. Zeus intervenes again, decreeing that Adonis will spend six months with Aphrodite and six months with Persephone.
The Judgement of Paris
The gods are all invited to the marriage of Peleus and Thetis (the eventual parents of Achilles), except Eris, goddess of discord. In revenge, Eris makes a golden Apple of Discord inscribed kallistēi ("to the fairest one"), which she throws among the goddesses. Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena all claim it.
Zeus delegates the choice to a mortal, Paris. The goddesses offer him bribes. Hera offers him supreme power and Athena offers him wisdom, fame, and glory in battle. Aphrodite offers him Helen of Troy, the most beautiful mortal woman in the world, as a wife. As the goddess of desire, she causes Paris to become inflamed with desire for Helen at first sight, and he awards the Apple of Discord to her. Helen is already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. The other two goddesses are enraged by this, and through Helen's abduction by Paris, they bring about the Trojan War.
In one version of the legend of Hippolytus, Aphrodite is the cause of his death. He scorned the worship of Aphrodite, preferring Artemis. Aphrodite caused his stepmother, Phaedra, to fall in love with him, knowing Hippolytus would reject her. This led to Phaedra's suicide, and the death of Hippolytus.
Polyphonte was a young woman who chose virginal life with Artemis instead of marriage and children, as favoured by Aphrodite. Aphrodite cursed her, causing her to have children by a bear. The resulting offspring, Agrius and Oreius, were wild cannibals who incurred the hatred of Zeus. Ultimately the whole family were transformed into birds of ill omen.
Forms of Aphrodite
By the late 5th century BC, Platonists distinguished two separate "Aphrodites". Aphrodite Ourania, the celestial Aphrodite, born from the sea foam after Cronus castrated Uranus, was thought the older form; she also inspired homosexual male desire or, more specifically, ephebic eros. The "younger" Aphrodite Pandemos, the common Aphrodite "of all the folk", born from the union of Zeus and Dione, inspired all love for women.
Among the neo-Platonists and, later, their Christian interpreters, Aphrodite Ourania is associated with spiritual love, and Aphrodite Pandemos with physical love (desire). A representation of Aphrodite Ourania with her foot resting on a tortoise came to be seen as emblematic of discretion in conjugal love; it was the subject of a chryselephantine sculpture by Phidias for Elis, known only from a parenthetical comment by the geographer Pausanias).
Cult of Aphrodite
She was also called Kypris or Cytherea after her birth-places in Cyprus and Cythera, respectively, both centers of her cult. She was associated with Hesperia and frequently accompanied by the Oreads, nymphs of the mountains. She was also often depicted with the sea, dolphins, doves, swans, pomegranates, sceptres, apples, myrtle, rose trees, lime trees, clams, scallop shells, and pearls.
Her festival, Aphrodisia, was celebrated across Greece, but particularly in Athens and Corinth. At the temple of Aphrodite on the summit of Acrocorinth (before the Roman destruction of the city in 146 BC), intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshiping Aphrodite. This temple was not rebuilt when the city was re-established under Roman rule in 44 BC, but the fertility rituals likely continued in the main city near the agora.
Pausanias records that, in Sparta, Aphrodite was worshipped as Areia, which means "warlike." This epithet stresses Aphrodite's connections to Ares, with whom she had extramarital relations. Pausanias also records that, in Sparta and on Cythera, there were extremely ancient cult statues of Aphrodite portraying her bearing arms.
One aspect of the cult of Aphrodite and her precedents that Thomas Bulfinch's much-reprinted The Age of Fable; or Stories of Gods and Heroes (1855 etc.) elided was the practice of ritual prostitution in her shrines and temples. The euphemism in Greek is hierodoule, "sacred slave." The practice was an inherent part of the rituals owed to Aphrodite's Near Eastern forebears, Sumerian Inanna and Akkadian Ishtar, whose temple priestesses were the "women of Ishtar," ishtaritum.
The practice has been documented in Babylon, Syria, and Palestine, in Phoenician cities and the Tyrian colony Carthage, and for Hellenic Aphrodite in Cyprus, the center of her cult, Cythera, Corinth, and in Sicily (Marcovich 1996:49); the practice however is not attested in Athens. Aphrodite was everywhere the patroness of the hetaera and courtesan. In Ionia on the coast of Asia Minor, hierodoulai served in the temple of Artemis.
Modern worship of Aphrodite
As one of the Twelve Olympians of the Greek pantheon and thus a major deity, worship of Aphrodite or Aphrodíti as a living goddess is one of the more prominent devotionals in Hellenismos (Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism), the revival of ancient Greek religious practices in the present day.
Hellenic polytheists of today celebrate their religious devotion to Aphrodite on two annual and monthly festival days. Aphrodisia is her main festival day, which is celebrated on the 4th day of Hekatombaion in the Attic calendar, falling in the months of July and August in the Gregorian calendar, depending on the year. Adonia, a joint festival of Aphrodite and her partner Adonis, is celebrated on the first full moon following the Northern spring equinox, often roughly as the same week the Christian festival of Easter is celebrated. The fourth day of each month is considered a sacred day of both Aphrodite and her son Eros.
Devotional offerings to Aphrodite can include incense, fruit (particularly apples and pomegranates), flowers (particularly fragrant roses), sweet dessert wine (particularly Commandaria wine from Cyprus), and cakes made with honey.
Ancient Near Eastern parallels
The cult of Aphrodite in Greece was imported from, or at least influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia, which, in turn, was derived from the cult of the Babylonian goddess Ishtar, which itself was largely derived from the cult of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. Pausanias states that the first to establish a cult of Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians, the Paphians of Cyprus, and then the Phoenicians at Ascalon. The Phoenicians, in turn, taught her worship to the people of Cythera.
An origin of or significant influence on the Greek love goddess from Near Eastern traditions was seen with some skepticism in classical 19th century scholarship. Authors such as A. Enmann (Kypros und der Ursprung des Aphroditekultes 1881) attempted to portray the cult of Aphrodite as a native Greek development. Hans Georg Wunderlich attempted to connect Aphrodite with the Minoan snake goddess. This theory found some support in the fact that the Egyptian snake goddess Wadjet was associated with the city known to the Greeks as Aphroditopolis, which means "City of Aphrodite."
Scholarly opinion on this question has shifted significantly since the 1980s, notably due to Walter Burkert (1984). The significant influence of the Near East on early Greek religion in general (and on the cult of Aphrodite in particular) is now widely recognized as dating to a period of orientalization during the 8th century BC, when archaic Greece was on the fringes of the Neo-Assyrian Empire.
In native Greek tradition, the planet Venus had two names: Hesperos as the evening star and Eosphoros as the morning star. The Greeks adopted the identification of the morning and the evening stars, as well as its identification as Ishtar/Aphrodite, during the 4th century BC, along with other items of Babylonian astrology, such as the zodiac (Eudoxus of Cnidus).
Comparison with the Indo-European dawn goddess
It has long been accepted in comparative mythology, regardless of possible oriental influences, that Aphrodite preserves some aspects of the Indo-European dawn goddess *Haéusōs (properly Greek Eos, Latin Aurora, Sanskrit Ushas).
Janda (2010) etymologizes her name as "she who rises from the foam [of the ocean]" and points to Hesiod's Theogony account of Aphrodite's birth as an archaic reflex of Indo-European myth. Aphrodite rising out of the waters after Cronus defeats Uranus as a mytheme would then be directly cognate to the Rigvedic myth of Indra defeating Vrtra, liberating Ushas.
Consorts and children
- Tyche (possibly)
- Phaethon (son of Eos)
The Venus Kallipygos. Aphrodite Kallipygos ("Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks"), is a type of nude female statue of the Hellenistic era. It depicts a partially draped woman raising her light peplos to uncover her hips and buttocks, and looking back and down over her shoulder, perhaps to evaluate them.
Fountain of Aphrodite in Mexico City
The Birth of Venus (1912), by Odilon Redon
Aphrodite riding a swan: Attic white-ground red-figured kylix, c. 460, found at Kameiros (Rhodes)
References and sources
- Eros is usually mentioned as the son of Aphrodite but in other versions he is born out of Chaos
- Hesiod, Theogony, 188
- Homer, Iliad 5.370.
- Hesiod, Theogony, 190-197.
- Michael Janda, Elysion. Entstehung und Entwicklung der griechischen Religion, (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen, 2005), pp. 349–360; id., Die Musik nach dem Chaos: der Schöpfungsmythos der europäischen Vorzeit (Innsbruck: Institut für Sprachen und Literaturen, 2010), 65.
- Paul Kretschmer, “Zum pamphylischen Dialekt”, Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung auf dem Gebiet der Indogermanischen Sprachen 33 (1895): 267.
- Ernst Maaß, “Aphrodite und die hl. Pelagia”, Neue Jahrbücher für das klassische Altertum 27 (1911): 457-468.
- Vittore Pisani, “Akmon e Dieus”, Archivio glottologico italiano 24 (1930): 65-73.
- K.T. Witczak, “Greek Aphrodite and her Indo-European origins”, Miscellanea Linguistica Graeco-Latina, ed. Lambert Isebaert (Namur: Société des études classiques, 1993), 115-123.
- Charles Penglase, Greek Myths and Mesopotamia: Parallels and Influence in the Homeric Hymns and Hesiod (Routledge, 1997), 164; citing Deborah Boedeker, Aphrodite's Entry into Greek Epic (Leiden: Brill, 1974), 15-6.
- Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, vol. 2, p. 111.
- M. Hammarström, “Griechisch-etruskische Wortgleichungen”, Glotta: Zeitschrift für griechische und lateinische Sprache 11 (1921): 215-6.
- Hjalmar Frisk, Griechisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, vol. 1 (Heidelberg: Carl Winter, 1960), 196 f.
- Robert Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, vol. 1 (Leiden-Boston: Brill, 2010), 179.
- Etymologicum Magnum, Ἀφροδίτη.
- Homer, Odyssey viii. 288; Herodotus i. 105; Pausanias iii. 23. § 1; Anacreon v. 9; Horace, Carmina i. 4. 5.
- Graves, Robert (1960). The Greek Myths. London: Penguin Books. p. 37. ISBN 9780140171990.
- Αναδυόμενη (Anadyómenē), "rising up".
- Iliad (Book V)
- "Iconography in Art History: The girdle of Aphrodite-Venus...or was it her 'wonderbra'?".
- Hyginus, Fabulae 250.3, 273.11; Pausanias, Guide to Greece 6.20.19
- Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 21
- Plato, Symposium 181a-d.
- Richard L. Hunter, Plato's Symposium, Oxford University Press: 2004, p. 44
- Pausanias, Periegesis vi.25.1; Aphrodite Pandemos was represented in the same temple riding on a goat, symbol of purely carnal rut: "The meaning of the tortoise and of the he-goat I leave to those who care to guess," Pausanias remarks. The image was taken up again after the Renaissance: see Andrea Alciato, Emblemata / Les emblemes (1584).
- Pausanias, --. "The Guide to Greece 3.17.2-3.18.1". Perseus Under Philologic. University of Chicago. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- T.T. Kroon, art. Areia (1), in T.T. Kroon, Mythologisch Woordenboek, ’s Gravenshage, 1875.
- Pausanias, --. 3.15.10&getid=1 "The Guide to Greece 3.15.6-3.16.4" Check
|url=value (help). Perseus Under Philologic. University of Chicago. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- Pausanias, --. "Description of Greece 3.22.10-3.22.6". Perseus Under Philologic. University of Chicago. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
- "Our work is not for the learned, nor for the theologian, nor for the philosopher, but for the reader of English literature, of either sex, who wishes to comprehend the allusions so frequently made by public speakers, lecturers, essayists, and poets, and those which occur in polite conversation." Bulfinch's obituary in the Boston Evening Standard noted that the contents were "expurgated of all that would be offensive".
- Miroslav Marcovich, "From Ishtar to Aphrodite" Journal of Aesthetic Education 30.2, Special Issue: Distinguished Humanities Lectures II (Summer 1996) p 49.
- World, Matthew Brunwasser PRI's The; Olympus, Mount. "The Greeks who worship the ancient gods".
- "Hellenic Polytheism and the Reconstruction of Greek Paganism".
- "What Should I Use as an Offering to the Gods?".
- "Aphrodite - Sacred Haven Coven".
- Marcovich, Miroslav (1996). "From Ishtar to Aphrodite". Journal of Aesthetic Education. 39 (2): 43–59. doi:10.2307/3333191. Retrieved 30 April 2017.
- Pausanias, Description of Greece, I. XIV.7
- Wunderlich (R. Winston, tr.).The secret of Crete (1987:134)
- C.L. Whitcombe.Minoan snake goddess.8.Snakes, Egypt magic and women.Minoan Snake Goddess
- see Burkert in his introduction to The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (1992), especially in pp 1-6.
- Reginald Eldred Witt, Isis in the ancient world (Johns Hopkins University Press) 1997:125. ISBN 0-8018-5642-6
- Larousse Desk Reference Encyclopedia, The Book People, Haydock, 1995, p. 215.
- Dumézil, Ouranos-Vàruna:Ètude de mythologie compáree indo-européene. Paris: Maisonneuve. 1934
- Museo Archeologico Nazionale (Napoli). "so-called Venus in a bikini." Cir.campania.beniculturali.it. Accessed 3 October 2016.
"The statuette portrays Aphrodite on the point of untying the laces of the sandal on her left foot, under which a small Eros squats, touching the sole of her shoe with his right hand. The Goddess is leaning with her left arm (the hand is missing) against a figure of Priapus standing, naked and bearded, positioned on a small cylindrical altar while, next to her left thigh, there is a tree trunk over which the garment of the Goddess is folded. Aphrodite, almost completely naked, wears only a sort of costume, consisting of a corset held up by two pairs of straps and two short sleeves on the upper part of her arm, from which a long chain leads to her hips and forms a star-shaped motif at the level of her navel. The 'bikini', for which the statuette is famous, is obtained by the masterly use of the technique of gilding, also employed on her groin, in the pendant necklace and in the armilla on Aphrodite’s right wrist, as well as on Priapus’ phallus. Traces of the red paint are evident on the tree trunk, on the short curly hair gathered back in a bun and on the lips of the Goddess, as well as on the heads of Priapus and the Eros. Aphrodite’s eyes are made of glass paste, while the presence of holes at the level of the ear-lobes suggest the existence of precious metal ear-rings which have since been lost. An interesting insight into the female ornaments of Roman times, the statuette, probably imported from the area of Alexandria, reproduces with a few modifications the statuary type of Aphrodite untying her sandal, known from copies in bronze and terracotta."
For extensive research and a bibliography on the subject, see: de Franciscis 1963, p. 78, tav. XCI; Kraus 1973, nn. 270-271, pp. 194-195; Pompei 1973, n. 132; Pompeji 1973, n. 199, pp. 142 e 144; Pompeji 1974, n. 281, pp. 148-149; Pompeii A.D. 79 1976, p. 83 e n. 218; Pompeii A.D. 79 1978, I, n. 208, pp. 64-65, II, n. 208, p. 189; Döhl, Zanker 1979, p. 202, tav. Va; Pompeii A.D. 79 1980, p. 79 e n. 198; Pompeya 1981, n. 198, p. 107; Pompeii lives 1984, fig. 10, p. 46; Collezioni Museo 1989, I, 2, n. 254, pp. 146-147; PPM II, 1990, n. 7, p. 532; Armitt 1993, p. 240; Vésuve 1995, n. 53, pp. 162-163; Vulkan 1995, n. 53, pp. 162-163; LIMC VIII, 1, 1997, p. 210, s.v. Venus, n. 182; LIMC VIII, 2, 1997, p. 144; LIMC VIII, 1, 1997, p. 1031, s.v. Priapos, n. 15; LIMC VIII, 2, 1997, p. 680; Romana Pictura 1998, n. 153, p. 317 e tav. a p. 245; Cantarella 1999, p. 128; De Caro 1999, pp. 100-101; De Caro 2000, p. 46 e tav. a p. 62; Pompeii 2000, n. 1, p. 62.
- Graves, Robert (1960). The Greek Myths. London: Penguin Books. p. 70. ISBN 9780140171990.
- Hesychius of Alexandria s. v. Μελιγουνίς: "Meligounis: this is what the island Lipara was called. Also one of the daughters of Aphrodite."
- The word "callipygian" is defined as "having shapely buttocks" by Merriam-Webster.
- Conventionally presumed to be Venus, though it may equally be a portrait of a mortal woman, such as a hetaira, or an image of the goddess modeled on one such.
- The gesture of Aphrodite/Venus lifting the robe symbolized religious initiation and the ancient Greeks worshiped the woman's "rich" buttocks to obtain great wealth on earth as the two Syracusan sisters who inspired the Kallipygos idea had accomplished.
- C. Kerényi (1951). The Gods of the Greeks.
- Walter Burkert (1985). Greek Religion (Harvard University Press).
- Vinciane Pirenne-Delforge (1994). L'Aphrodite grecque: contribution à l'étude de ses cultes et de sa personnalité dans le panthéon archaïque et classique, (Athènes : Centre international d'étude de la religion grecque antique (Kernos. Supplément ; 4))
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- Theoi Project, Aphrodite information from classical literature, Greek and Roman art
- The Glory which Was Greece from a Female Perspective
- Sappho's Hymn to Aphrodite, with a brief explanation`