Paolo Veronese - Mars and Venus United by Love - 1570-80

Aphrodite and Ares

Venus and Mars by Australian artist Rupert BunnyIn Greek mythology, Aphrodite (The Romans called her Venus) is the goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture. According to Hesiod, she was born when Uranus (the father of the gods) was castrated by his son Cronus. Cronus threw the severed genitals into the ocean which began to churn and foam about them. From the aphros ("sea foam") arose Aphrodite, and the sea carried her to either Cyprus or Cythera. Hence she is often referred to as Kypris and Cytherea. Homer calls her a daughter of Zeus and Dione.

After her birth, Zeus was afraid that the gods would fight over Aphrodite's hand in marriage so he married her off to the smith god Hephaestus, the steadiest of the gods. Hephaestus could hardly believe his good luck and used all his skills to make the most lavish jewels for Aphrodite. He made her a girdle of finely wrought gold and wove magic into the filigree work. This was not very wise of him, for when she wore her magic girdle no one could resist her, and she was all too irresistible already. She loved gaiety and glamour and was not at all pleased at being the wife of sooty, hard-working Hephaestus.

Venus and Mars by Pieter Fransz Isaacsz Helsingor

Aphrodite loved and was loved by many gods and mortals, but her true love and chief consort is Ares.

Ares (Roman name Mars) is the Greek god of war and battle and the instigator of violence, a son of Zeus and Hera. Because of his cruel and war-like nature he was despised by all the gods, even his own father disliked him. Ares could be bloody, merciless, fearful and cowardly and possessed no moral attributes. He was, however, unable to withstand the loveliness of Aphrodite, who subsequently became his lover. Ares was of giant stature and had a loud voice, and surpassed the other gods in speed.

Their union created the minor gods Eros, Anteros, Phobos, Deimos, Harmonia, and Adrestia. While Eros and Anteros' godly stations favored their godly mother, Adrestia by far preferred to emulate her father, often accompanying him to war.

Andrea Mantegna - The Parnassus,  Mars and Venus (Detail)

One of the most amusing stories about them is from The Odyssey. According to Homer, Helios the sun god told Hephaestus about Aphrodite’s affair with Ares. Hephaestus then set a trap to catch Aphrodite when she met her lover. While Aphrodite and Ares lay together in bed, Hephaestus ensnared them in an unbreakable, chain-link net and invited the other gods to come and laugh at them. Hephaestus insisted that he would not release Aphrodite from the trap unless Zeus restored to him the marriage gifts that were paid for his unfaithful wife. Zeus refused to get involved in a matrimonial quarrel & scolded Hephaestus for being foolish enough to turn a private disagreement into a public scandal. Poseidon, hoping to spend the night with Aphrodite himself, loudly proclaimed that Ares should be the one to repay the wedding gifts back to Hephaestus, since it was he not Zeus who was caught frolicking with Aphrodite. Hephaestus agreed, but under the condition that should Ares default, Poseidon should have to take his place under the net. Poseidon agreed. Ares was set free and returned to his home in Thrace, while Aphrodite returned to Paphos where she performed a sea ritual to restore her virginity.

Homer does not detail the outcome of this story but it is generally believed that the marriage gifts were never repaid to Hephaestus, for Ares decided if Zeus was not obligated to pay than neither was he. Hephaestus soon forgot the whole ordeal, as he was madly in love with Aphrodite and like so many others he too was blinded by her intriguing beauty.

Venus and Mars by Sandro Botticelli
__________________________________________ Presents
Stories Of Famous Lovers - Presented By Bonza Sheila
Famous Lovers Index | Bonza Sheila Table Of Contents | Sitemap

There are many sections to explore at BonzaSheila!
See our Table Of Contents for more.

Thank You for visiting Bonza Sheila!
Bonza Sheila: It's all about Love!
Home Page | Table Of Contents | Detailed Sitemap