The word myth derives from the Greek mythos, which has a range of meanings from "word," through "saying" and "story," to "fiction"; the unquestioned validity of mythos can be contrasted with logos, the word whose validity or truth can be argued and demonstrated. Because myths narrate fantastic events with no attempt at proof, it is sometimes assumed that they are simply stories with no factual basis, and the word has become a synonym for falsehood or, at best, misconception. In the study of religion, however, it is important to distinguish between myths and stories that are merely untrue. The term mythology denotes both the study of myth and the body of myths belonging to a particular religious tradition.
The first part of this article discusses the nature, study, functions, cultural impact, and types of myth, taking into account the various approaches to the subject offered by modern branches of knowledge. In the second part, the specialized topic of the role of animals and plants in myth is examined in some detail. Some say that in Ancient Greece, Greek myths evolved over many years like history, passed down for generations. They were stories of human kings and heroes with supernatural powers, or various prayers and rituals for specific gods.
The Greeks believed their gods were a lot like humans. They believed their gods were able to have children, feelings, and live their lives the way humans did every day. However, each god had a specific duty. They each were in charge of a different aspect of life. Aphrodite was placed in charge of love, beauty, marriage, and vegetation.
Many temples were built in honor of her and other gods, and each city was usually a patron to a particular god. Ceremonies were performed for the worship of the gods, and the people of the towns distributed gifts to shrines. Aphrodite had many statues carved in worship of her. Aphrodite is known as the Greek Goddess (Roman Venus) of love, desire, beauty, fertility, the sea, and vegetation. It is said that when Cronus was castrated by Uranus, and his genitalia were thrown into the sea, Aphrodite was thus born and arose on a large shell, which West Wind then carried to Cyprus where she was clothed by the Season, thus her name being translated "foam-risen." The sea nymphs dressed her and adorned her with flowers and gold. She now represents Erotic Love as a form of Divine influence, which has resulted in many men becoming capable of falling in love with her.
There are many other tales of Aphrodite, as her Roman name is Venus, she is also known as the daughter of Zeus and Dione, one of his consorts. (A paraphrase of Second Homeric Hymn from the seventh century). I sing of beautiful Aphrodite of Cyprus and the sea, where the camp force of Zephyr breath carried her along on waves of the resounding sea and the soft foam. The hours happily received her and put divine garments around her.
On her immortal head they placed a crown, carefully made of gold. In the pierced lobes of her ears they placed flowers of copper. On her delicate neck and silver-white breasts they put necklaces of gold. Then they led her to the immortals who welcomed her and reached out their hands to her. They gawked at the figure of the Cythera n crowned in violets.
Farewell, quick-blinking, sweet-smiling goddess, grant me victory in this contest-favor my song and I'll remember you in another. In Homeric legend Aphrodite was forced to marry the ugly god of fire, Hephaestus, with this marriage, she had hoped to reach the freedom she needed instead of being controlled. Aphrodite was very independent and constantly in search of a new lover. One of her more familiar lovers was Ares, the god of war, whom she later married. Aphrodite felt no pain in being deceitful, as she flourished in the fact that she could have anyone and everyone, love and admire her. Aphrodite has had many miscellaneous children as a result of her whimsical affairs, but a few of her more familiar ones are, Eros (god of Love), Rhodos, Herophilus, Hermaphroditus, Priapus, Phobos, De imus, and Harmonia and Aneas.
We can remember Aneas as the founder of Rome. Aneas had fled Troy when it was destroyed, accompanied by his son. He traveled far and wide, lived and heard many tales of the past and the future, until he found Rome and claimed it. Hephaestus was fully aware of Aphrodite and Ares' ongoing affair but could do nothing about. He did, however, conceive a plan to capture them together in a net made of gold and showed them to the other Olympians. Most of them were embarrassed for the two or refused to get involved.
Aphrodite ended up sleeping with Hermes as a kind of "thank you" for freeing her. This union resulted in a child named Hermaphroditus. Aphrodite's more admired child is Eros. Eros or the Roman Cupid. Eros (Cupid) means desire, for Eros is the god of Love. Just as Aphrodite was married to an ugly god, Hephaestus, she had her son follow in similar footsteps.
Eros was in love with Psyche, a beautiful princess. Except Psyche was a mortal, and Aphrodite hated her for her beauty. Aphrodite had Eros persuade Psyche to fall in love with a monster (Eros really), so he hid his identity from her, for she believed him to be hideous. She would only see him at night, as Eros kept her hidden away from all people. One night, Psyche's curiosity got the best of her, and she looked upon Eros by candlelight as he slept. Eros was so enraged by her spying that he left her to wander the world in misery, but he knew that his love for her was too strong.
He begged Zeus to change her to an immortal, and they were finally married. We see Eros today as the symbol of love on Valentines day, and other sweetheart moments. Many of the portraiture's of Aphrodite are recognized by the image of Eros by her side, such as Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time by Bronzing. The most famous legend of Aphrodite, is the beginning of the Trojan War. Aphrodite was among two other goddess, Hera and Athena, who were invited to the wedding of King Peleus and his sea nymph Thetis. Eris the goddess of discord was so outraged that she was not invited, so she threw a golden apple labeled "to the fairest" in the center of the floor.
All three goddess knew that they were the fairest, and fought over it. Since Zeus would not choose the fairest, the goddess's looked upon Paris, the Prince of Troy, to make the award. Each goddess offered poor Paris a bribe for them to be the chosen one. Thus the bribe he could not turn down was that of Aphrodite, as she offered him the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Troy. Helen however was the wife of the Greek king Menelaus, so Paris's abduction of Helen led to the Trojan War Aphrodite is frequently seen as a reclining nude, laying in the forest. As shown in many works of art such as Bernardino Luini's Venus, we are able to see her as she becomes one with nature.
Though vanity played a great part in Aphrodite's life, she is most often depicted in portraits with her mirror in her toilet. But unlike the dignified beauty of the Olympian goddesses, Aphrodite's beauty was truly feminine. Many artists have tried to depict various woman as Aphrodite, it was a way to show their own personal feeling towards the woman, by giving them goddess qualities. The reclining nude played a very important part in famous Italian paintings of the Sixteenth century. Artists such as Titian, Cranach, and Luini, all try to show the beauty of the woman through mythological influence. In these paintings we are able to associate Aphrodite with roses, the dolphin, the swan, and putti.
Putti have played also the role of being noted as her son Eros. She is also associated with the myrtle tree, sparrow, dove, tortoise, ram, golden apples, poppy, red pomegranets, the planet Venus and the month of April. The statue of the Mazarin Venus is frequently compared with that of, the Aphrodite of Melos. This statue is an example of Hellenistic art. No one knows however who created this statue. A peasant on the Greek island of Melos discovered it in 1820 AD.
For hundreds of years the statue remained buried in an underground cavern, where it had been damaged and when discovered was in two parts. This statue is believed to have been sculpted around second century BC.