Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and Beauty, was born of the sea. She was the daughter of Uranus who was castrated by his treacherous son, Cronus. Cronus threw his father's genitals into the ocean where waves foamed round them. From this sea foam (aphros) Aphrodite rose, pearls dripping from her hair. Blown to the Isle of Cyprus by the West Wind, she arrived, as painted by Botticelli, on a seashell.
Her beauty caused a sensation in Olympus and made the other goddesses jealous. Paris, Prince of Troy, was forced to choose who was the fairest. He chose Aphrodite because she promised him the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen. Unfortunately, she was already married to King Menelaus of Sparta. The tragic result of Aphrodite's promise was that Helen and Paris eloped, igniting the 10-year long Trojan War. Zeus ordered Aphrodite to return to her mission of inspiring love, beauty and fertility instead of meddling in politics.
Fearing the gods would fight over the seductive goddess, Zeus married her off to Hephaestus, the crippled master craftsman of Olympus. But marriage never stopped Aphrodite from enjoying other romantic adventures. Her affair with Ares, God of War, produced a number of children, among them Eros (Cupid), who helped her promote love and sensual delight.
Hephaestus, jealous of her relationship with Ares, forged a golden net to cage the lovers and expose them to judgment. Zeus, however, refused to punish the guilty couple, and Aphrodite's sensuality continued.
Of her many lovers, one was the hunter, Adonis. Afraid of losing him, Aphrodite begged him to stop hunting. Adonis refused and was mortally wounded by a wild boar. Desolate, Aphrodite transformed her dying lover's drops of blood into anemones. These lovely, short-lived blossoms remind us that she endured the pain of loss as well as the joys of love. She was always fully alive.
Aphrodite's beauty and passionate search for love, even when it led to heartbreak, has inspired countless people and generations of artists to follow in her footsteps. In that quest, immortal works of art and life have sometimes been created. (Story on back of card.)
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