Aphrodite (Venus) CLAS 160D2 - 002
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Popular in Classical Mythology
This 13 page Class Notes was uploaded by Samantha Work on Saturday March 19, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to CLAS 160D2 - 002 at University of Arizona taught by Michael Teske in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 30 views. For similar materials see Classical Mythology Lecture in Classical Mythology at University of Arizona.
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Aphrodite (Venus) Michael Teske @ 2pm March 4, 2016 Aphrodite(Venus) ● Hesiod describes her birth from the seafoam after the castrated genitals of Uranus are thrown in the ocean by his son Cronus ○ He derives her name from Greek aphros “foam” ■ Links her to 2 islands Cythera and Cyprus ● Her worship was especially strong here, such as at the city of Paphos ● Homer refers to another version of her birth ○ claiming that Zeus mated with Dione “Zeusette” to produce Aphrodite ● This double tradition of her birth led to the notion of her basic duality ○ or even the existence of 2 separate goddesses of love ● Description in Plato’s Symposium (of the 2 manifestations of Aphrodite) ● Pausanias (the speaker) observes key traits ○ Aphrodite Urania (the Celestial Aphrodite) ■ Is sprung from the castrated genitals of Uranus ■ She is older ■ Stronger ■ More intelligent ■ More spiritual ● (than the other Aphrodite) ■ Usually linked to homoseual love ○ Aphrodite Pandemos “of all the people” ■ Produce by the union of Zeus m. Dione ■ She is younger ■ Weaker ■ Less intelligent ■ More physical ● Than Urania ■ Often connected to heterosexuality but also homosexuality Aphrodite’s Characteristics ● In general Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty and marriage ○ The default Aph. is Pandemos ● Varied worship for her ○ At Corinth, temple harlots would give their all to wealthy patrons ■ Thus arises the notion of sacred prostitution ● “Images” of the goddess helped to generate revenue for the temple’s operating expenses ■ At Athens, Aphrodite was the upright deity backing married love ● Despite Homer’s portrait of her infidelity with Ares ● Myrtle tree is often associated with her as is the dove, and her chariot is sometimes seen being pulled by swans ○ Her most common epithet is philommeides “laughterloving” ○ Has magic girdle with powers of sexual enticement ■ Hera borrows it to seduce her husband Zeus in Homer’s Iliad ● In early Greek art, she is usually depicted as beautiful, but clothes ○ By 4th cent. BC she is rendered as partially nude and voluptuous ■ The 4th cent BC sculptor Praxiteles was quite influential in establishing the type, though his originals have not survived ● Cf. Venus de Milo ● Maybe based on 1 of his versions ● ● Others Linked to Aphrodite ● The Graces (Charities) are seen as her gorgeous attendants, or dancing at the Olympian feasts ● Aphrodite has a son, Priapus (whose father is variously named) ○ He is a fertility god bearing an erect phallus ■ (a graphi personification of male sexuality/powers of generation) ○ His statues were placed in gardens and near house entrances as an emblem of prosperity and good luck ■ Apotropaic “diving off evil influences” ○ Later they become comic figures/ a contrast with the solemnly regarded Herm statues in gardens Key Aphrodite Myths ● Pygmalion a master sculptor (who lives on Cyprus) ○ becomes disgusted with all the women, because they are prostituting themselves ● So he creates/ sculpts a beautiful maiden out of ivory ○ I.e. purity and innocence represented ○ Then treats it as if it is his girlfriend ● He decks it out in fine clothes and jewelry, brings it gifts, and embraces/ kisses it ○ Finally he goes to festival of Venus, prays to the goddess for “one like his ivory maiden”, and when he returns home, the statue comes to life ○ She is called Galatea ■ Not the sea nymph ○ And they have a son Paphos Jungian Interpretation ● The anima is the repressed notion of the female in the male psyche ○ When a person meets someone who is close to their anima, their ideal, they are immediately drawn to them ■ This can account for love at first sight ○ Cf. animus is the repressed notion of the male in the female psyche ● So Pygmalion is fashioning a version of the perfect woman out of his subconscious ○ in a kind of wish fulfillment, she comes to life and loves him back ● This is a recurrent theme in modern films, novels, plays, etc. Versions of Pygmalion Theme ● George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, later made into the movie My Fair Lady ○ With Audrey Hepburn ● The films Mannequin, Weird Science, Lars and the real Girl (with Ryan Gosling), Ex Machina, etc. Myrrha Myth ● Paphos has a son Cinyras and he has a daughter, Myrrha ○ What is her problem? ■ She loves her father and wants to mate with him ○ What happens in the myth? ■ From Ovid’s Metamorphoses: ● According to this tale Myrrha was the daughter of a wealthy king of Cyprus named Cinyras ● As a beautiful young woman, Myrrha could have any suitor for her husband, but instead she falls victim to a terrible lust for her own father ○ some versions claim that the goddess Aphrodite is responsible for making Myrrha desire this incestuous union ● Unable to deal with her unacceptable passions the princess vows to end her own life. However, as she is attempting to hang herself, Myrrha old nurse comes to the rescue. ● The nurse promises to help Myrrha and so devises a cunning plan. ● At the time of the festival of Demeter, the nurse realizes, Myrrha’s mother is required to stay away from the marriage bed for nine days. ● So the nurse suggests that Myrrha act as a substitute for her own mother. ● This devious plan gives Myrrha an opportunity to satisfy her secret lusts without arousing the suspicion of her father. ● The two accomplices carry out their scheme by hiding the identity of the princess. ● King Cinyras is utterly fooled, and so taken with his new young lover that he makes a habit of bringing her to his bed many times. ● Finally, one night Cinyras gives in to his curiosity and uses a lamp to expose the young woman who has brought him such pleasure. ● He is shocked and appalled to learn it is his own daughter! Overwhelmed with anger and disgust, King Cinyras tries to kill Myrrha, but the young woman escapes. ● Myrrha soon realizes that her fate is hopeless. ● She begs the gods to release her from her shame. ● The gods oblige, transforming the unfortunate young woman into a myrrh tree. ● Underneath Myrrha’s new skin of bark a child is growing, and this child will eventually emerge as the legendary Adonis. Adonis Myth ● Adonis is born from Myrrha (as the myrrh tree) as an epitome of mortal male beauty ● When he grows to manhood, Venus falls in love with him, and when he goes out to the hunt, she warns him not to face off against beasts who do not turn and flee. ○ What happens to him? ■ Adonis ignored her advice and was killed while hunting by a wild boar, that was actually God Ares. ○ how does Venus react? ■ When Adonis died, Aphrodite heard his cries and hastened to his side in her swandrawn chariot ■ She cursed the Fates and Ares that had ordained his death ■ With Adonis still in her arms, Aphrodite turned the blood drops that fell from his wounds onto the soil into windflowers (the shortlived anemone) as a memorial to their love. Pygmalion m. Galatea Line Pygmalion m. Galatea (Ivory statue comes to life) ● Paphos ● Cinyras m. Myrrha ○ Adonis (gored in gorin by wild boar/ turned into a flower ● Myrrha Birth of Cybele, the Phrygian Mother Goddess ● Cybele is born from the earth as a hermaphroditic deity ○ Both male and female sex organs ● She soon denies her male self and severs her male genitalia ● They fall to the ground and a marvelous almond tree arises ● Nana, the daughter of a rivergod, brakes off a branch or blossom, places it on her breasts, and it melds in and makes her pregnant ○ She later gives birth to the very handsome mortal Attis ● When Attis grows to manhood, Cybele sees him and immediately fall in love with him ● Later he spurns Cybele ○ She drives him mad and he castrates himself (with his flute) ○ He dies ● Cybele has pity on Attis, ○ she turns him into a purple flower ○ he dies and is reborn annually as a lesser vegetation god Major Similarities Between the Venus/ Adonis and Cybele/Attis Myths ● Both Adonis and Attis are extremely handsome male mortals loved by dominant fertility ● Both are linked to trees in their birth, or conception ● Both are killed by wounds to the groin ● Both are transformed into flowers and springtime festivals are dedicated to the, ● Both are ultimately connected by blood to the goddesses who love them ○ If Galatea is seen as a symbolic representation of Venus ● Cybele’s eunuch priests were called Galli ○ They had castrated themselves in a religious frenzy ■ just like Attis had ○ Given their all for the powerful mother goddess ● The crazed worship of Cybele involved the clashing of cymbals, the blaring of horns, and frantic “warlike” dancing as her cult statue, drawn b a pair of lions was paraded through the streets of Rome ○ In 1st century BC and later ■ Refer to Lucretius description of a Cybele procession in his De Rerum Natura “on the Nature of Things”, Book 2 Cybele Cult Introduced into Rome in 204 BC (Towards End of 2nd Punic War) ● Why did the Romans think they needed a new divinity? ○ The situation was very desperate in their protracted war with the Carthaginians ■ so they believed they had to have more divine favor and aid. ● How did they bring Cybele’s worship to Rome from Asia Minor? ○ The Romans sent a ship to Pessinus (along the Ionian coast) to grab the cult statue of the goddess from her temple there, and bring it back to Rome ■ Indeed the next year the Romans won the war and vowed to built a great temple to Cybele ● Which was completed in 191 BC Worship of Cybele and Attis Modified in cs. 140 AD to Include Taurobolium ● The taurobolium was a “baptism in bull’s blood” whereby an initiate descended into a pit ○ A bull was driven onto a wooden grating above him/her and then slaughtered ● The blood cascaded down and drenched the devotee with blood ○ The person then emerged from the pit ■ A kind of figurative underworld ■ As if being resurrected into immortality Worship of Cybele Perhaps Sheds Lights on Mythic/Religious Evolution of Aphrodite ● Adonis’ name is derived from Syrian adon “lord”, and a Cypriot cult of a bearded Aphrodite ○ Probably from the portrayal of her birth from a scrotal sack in the sea foam ○ Reminds us of the bisexual Cybele who first arises from the earth ■ Near Eastern connections suggested ● The Cybele/Attis story is linked to the cycles of the seasons and fertility ○ As is the Venus/Adonis myth (Back to) Aphrodite Myths ● Love affair of Aphrodite and the Trojan youth Anchises is elegantly told in The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite ○ See Mordord ● Why does Zeus contrive to have Aphrodite couple with a mortal? ○ It is suggested in the hymn that Zeus essentially wanted to give the beautiful goddess a taste of her own medicine, so to speak, by making her fall in love with a mortal. ● Where and how does Aphrodite appear to Anchises? ○ appeaered to him while he was tending his sheep on Mount Ida. ● What is the result of their mating? ○ Ultimately, their offspring is Aeneas ○ Aphrodite did warn Anchises that he was never to reveal this secret tryst to anyone after they parted company, and the man was wise enough to agree to these terms ■ But, as fate would have it, Anchises made the mistake of bragging about his affair with the glorious goddess when he was drunk ■ He was in turn punished for this indiscretion by Zeus. Atalanta and Hippomenes ● Who is Atalanta and how can her suitors win her hand in marriage? ○ By defeating her in a footrace ○ Anyone who competes and loses agrees to be put to death ● Hippomenes, smitten by Atalanta, prays to Aphrodite to help and is given 3 golden apples to distract the maiden during the race ● What happens after Hippomenes wins the race and gains the girl? ○ They forgot to honor Aphrodite for her help ○ He failed to show his gratitude ○ Aphrodite punished them with lust ○ They consummated their relationship in Cybele's temple ■ She got upset and turned them both into lions ● Who now stand guard by her chariot ● What do the apples represent? ○ Appels tend to represent forbiddenness ○ Also beauty ○ Womanhood ■ When Aphrodite won the golden apples she came unto her womanhood ■ Same in the Adam and Eve story Nature of Eros: Myth of the Original 3 Sexes in Plato’s Symposium ● Creatures on earth were first like 2 people fused together back to back ○ With 4 arm and 4 legs ○ When they moved they spun around doing cartwheels ● The 3 sexes of these beings are: ○ malemale ○ Femalefemale ○ Malefemale ● The creatures tried to scale up the heights of heaven to overthrow Zeus ○ So he decided to bisect them to curtail their power ■ Now each tally seeks to be reunited with its second half ■ So the male half years to be with the other male half ● Homosexuality ■ The female with the female ● Lesbianism ■ The male with the female half ● Thus accounting for heterosexuality ■ All aspects of human sexuality are considered “natural” ● By this myth ●