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April 13, 2010

Venus


Birth-of-Venus
In Roman mythology, Venus (Greek equivalent: Aphrodite, also called: Cytherea) was originally considered as a deity of gardens and fields but later identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Homer described her as the daughter of Jupiter (also called: Jove; Greek equivalent: Zeus) and Dione, the daughter of Epimethius. But in Theogony, Hesiod, the other Greek poet, however, opined that she was born of sea-foam. Requested by his mother Gaea (also called: Ge), the earth goddess, Saturn (Greek equivalent: Cronus) dethroned and castrated his father Uranus, the god of the heavens. The detached testicles of Uranus fell into the sea, and from them emerged the goddess Venus. Since her birth she was a full-fledged sensual woman. According to Homeric tradition she was the wife of Vulcan (Greek equivalent: Hephaestus), the god of fire and fire-based arts. But Venus was alleged to be often unfaithful to her husband. Among her many lovers were Mars (Greek equivalent: Ares), the god of war by whom she became the mother of the famous son Cupid (Greek equivalent: Eros), the god of love, and the daughter Harmonia, the wife of Cadmus, the founder of Thebes. Venus also formed love affairs with numerous mortals. Anchises was one of them, by whom Venus had Aeneas, the Trojan prince. The most notable mortal lover was perhaps Adonis, the handsome shepherd. Venus was the rival of Proserpina, (Greek equivalent: Persephone), the goddess of the underworld, for the love of Adonis.

During the imperial periods she was worshiped under several aspects. As Venus Genetrix, she was worshiped as the mother of the hero Aeneas, the founder of the Roman people; as Venus Felix, the bringer of good fortune; as Venus Victrix, the bringer of victory; and as Venus Verticordia, the protector of feminine chastity. But ultimately she was worshiped exclusively as the goddess of love and beauty.

Although she was associated with love and beauty, many times she proved her cruel sides by destroying those who dared to deny her excellence or surpass her beauty. Venus’ vindictiveness is particularly seen in her indifferent treatment towards her daughter-in-law Psyche (Greek equivalent: Yuch).

Aphrodite-Crouching
Venus-de-Milo
Venus-Victrix
Venus-with-Cupid-and-a-dolphin
La-naissance-de-Venus

Venus played a significant role in the instigation of the Trojan War. The war started when the Trojan prince Paris (also called Alexander, in Greek mythology, son of Priam and Hecuba, king and queen of Troy) gave the golden apple (on which there was inscribed: “for the fairest”) depriving Juno (Greek equivalent: Hera) and Minerva (Greek equivalent: Athena, also called: Athene). Juno promised to Paris that she would make him an influential ruler of Europe and Asia. Minerva told him that she would help him to achieve great military success by ensuring his victory against the Greeks. But Venus’ bribe was more appealing to Paris, since she pledged to give him the fairest woman (Helen, the wife of Menelaus) in the world. Paris’ subsequent abduction of Helen kindled the primary cause of the Trojan War. In the war Venus favoured the Trojans. In the Warfield she got wounded by the Greek hero Diomedes (king of Árgos), when she tried to rescue Paris.

References

Khan, Farhad. An Encyclopedia of Classical Literature. Dhaka: Protik, 1996.

“Aphrodite.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.

“Venus.” Microsoft Encarta. DVD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 2005.
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