7/6/09

Goddess of the Week: Aphrodite

Aphrodite of Soli, probably Roman ca. 100BC, A...Image via Wikipedia

Ah, love. What a messy business. It topples kings and governors. It inspires poems and pop songs and trips to Argentina. In its way, it is the great equalizer, for it is something to which we all aspire; it indiscriminately makes fools of high and low, rich and poor, male and female. Still, as Bridget Jones notes, it's better than dying alone and being eaten by an Alsatian.
If it is love that you are after, the goddess for you is the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Actually, there are many ancient love goddesses. The Egyptians had Isis, the Sumerians had Ishtar, the Norse had Freya, the Hindus had Radha, and the Romans had Venus, but they are all variations on a theme, proving that the quest for the perfect partner is both universal and timeless. That being the case, let's choose Aphrodite; she has so many good stories. For example:

Once there was a princess who wanted nothing to do with love. She was a career gal all the way. The kind you really want to hate: beautiful, wealthy, athletic, heir to the throne. She vowed never to marry. Her father, the king, was totally not cool with that idea.

"Atalanta, you're a princess, of course you must marry. I have a dynasty to think of."

Atalanta could not have cared less about dynasty, but her father was a bit of a hard-ass so she made him a deal. "Ok," she said, "I'll marry. I'll marry whoever can beat me in a foot race."

"Fine," said the king.

"But whoever I beat has to die," said Atalanta.

"Ok," said the king. "It's a deal."

Now, there are many fathers these days who are truly engaged with their daughters. These are the fathers who coach soccer and take their girls to lunch and show up for parent-teacher conferences. These are good fathers, and they truly know their children. Atalanta's father was not one of these. He was an old man who knew nothing about his daughter. He did not know, for example, that she was a Hellenistic Carl Lewis. She could run. Fast. She was unbeatable. And remorseless. Prince after hero after prince after hero came -- each one stupider than the one before him, each one convinced that even though every other suitor had lost the foot race and then lost his life to Atalanta, HE would be different. HE would win. Every time: HE lost.

Until Hippomenes. Hippomenes knew he would lose, but the minute he saw Atalanta he fell in love with her. So he did what the others suitors failed to do: he prayed to Aphrodite. "Help me," he said. "Help me because I love her."

Aphrodite helped. She gave Hippomenes three golden apples and told him what to do. The day of the race arrived. Atalanta took the lead. Hippomenes threw a golden apple in her path. She stopped to pick it up. Hippomenes edged ahead. Atalanta sprinted forward. Hippomenes threw another apple and, later, another. Hippomenes won. And because Aphrodite likes happy endings, Atalanta fell in love with Hippomenes.

And they lived happily ever after. Except they didn't. The thing is, if you ask a goddess for help, you need to show a little gratitude when you get it. It's basic courtesy. Hippomenes and Atalanta forgot to thank Aphrodite. They imagined that their perfect love was all because they were so perfect themselves. Big mistake. Aphrodite put a little jinx on them so that they felt compelled to make love in another goddess's temple, which was very bad form, very rude. The other goddess got so mad she turned Hippomenes and Atalanta into lions. To this day, they have to pull her around in a golden chariot. They are together and they love each other, which is good, but they are lions in the eternal servitude of a jet-setting, chariot-racing goddess, which is bad. That's the way it goes with goddesses. They are very particular. You must play your card rights at all times.

The lesson here is: If you ask her, Aphrodite will help you. Love is her business and her passion. But nothing is free. Not even love. If you find it, be grateful. Never take it for granted.

Channel this goddess: When the single life has you down, when searching for romance and love and candlelit dinners.

Laiza: This goddess is for you.

Need a goddess? Tell me what you need her for and I'll find the goddess you need.

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38 comments:

Jean Spitzer said...

Another lesson from the tale: hard to go wrong with bright, shiny objects.

I love your tale and commentary.

altadenahiker said...

Love is hard on the arms.

Jean Spitzer said...

And other extremities.

Alison said...

congrats on being a "blog of note"!!! great stuff here - I'm enjoying your posts.

Sarah said...

I love this! Found you under 'blogs of note' and i'll be back to read more!

Margaret said...

Jean: yes, bright and shiny = good.

AH: Especially if you're pulling a chariot.

Jean again: yes, those extremities do take a beating.

Alison and Sarah: Thanks for the visits. I look forward to hearing more of you.

Cafe Pasadena said...

What a tragedy. Love can be hard on de arms. (Oh, wait that was already taken!)

Ok, then Love can take you apart, piece by piece. Doesn't look like anyone took that line.

Love your photos, MF! I shoulda mentioned this gizmo way back when. You mite wanna update your previous postings with the visual aids. What's old is new, again!

Laiza said...

Thanks Margaret for this! I'm totally inspired... there is still hope for me.lol But spare me the tragic ending...I don't want to end up being turned into another creature...hehe.I luv being human. Thanks again.:) I really love your blog...

Shell Sherree said...

Wow, goddesses can be a bit touchy! Though I do appreciate Aphrodite's lesson here. A little gratitude certainly goes a long way, in all matters of life.

blessingsgoddess said...

It's great to see your feature on Aphrodite !

Farhana said...

Hi...your blog is very nice and good. I like to visit your blog. Don't forget to visit my ZrooglePic

Rags said...

Just checked out ur blog coz its on the blogs of note list and i liked ur posts.. well keep it coming then! :)

Lynne said...

Do you think Govenor Sanford had everything going great until he and Miss Argentina didn't say thank you to Aphrodite so she had her revenge by making it public.

Daisy said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog Margaret. Scout and I _need_ to know: "Is there a goddess for rescue dogs???"

We're glad you are enjoying "Three Cups of Tea" too. It's an engaging book but my human gets reading and forgets about meal time. Good thing I've got MY priorities straight!

Margaret said...

Pup: Yes, I'm counting on you to keep me up to date about these blogging aids.

Laiza: You are welcome, and no tragic ending for you, only good ones.

Shell: Yes, goddesses can be touchy, and gratitude is always helpful.

Thank you blessing goddess, Farhana, and Rags.

Daisy: A goddess for rescue dogs? I'm on the case.

rxBambi said...

Great post! I have no idea what I owe Aphrodite cuz I have my hero but I guess I should work on it since I really have no desire to be a lion and tote around snobbish pampered goddesses...

Margaret said...

rxBambi: good thinking. Glad you have your hero.

pasadenaadjacent said...

What was the name of the goddess whose temple these lovers trespassed in?

Margaret said...

Lynne: I think your explanation makes more sense than anything else I've heard. Good deductive reasoning.

Margaret said...

PA: It was Cybele's temple. She was a Greek earth goddess.

Joanne walked barefoot on the milky way said...

Hi Ms. Margaret! I enjoyed reading this post. Aphrodite is the goddess I hate to love, love to hate and love to love. I'm very intrigued by her character. She can be helpful and yet self-centered.

I really like the "be grateful" lesson in this story :)

Petrea said...

Love is lovely, all right. And gratitude sure comes in handy, doesn't it? Lynne's got me wondering now.

Rachel Leastlikely said...

i wonder, is there a goddess of post-molar-extraction facial swelling? maybe one of aphrodite's sidekicks, helping young ladies overcome medical aesthetic setbacks...? still, i imagine she too is not a goddess to be trifled with. if you're not polite, she will mess up your face.

thanks for these insightful posts.

elizabeth said...

Have a blue Goddess? Mayan?

armyblond said...

Wo wo! I think I found the goddess that will help solve my riddle as to why I'm still single! My wishes go out to Laiza!

Thanks for this!

PS ... if you're confused, just visit my blog. You'll see what I'm talking about ...

Cafe Pasadena said...

We have a Pasadena blogger called Cybele. She just needs to blog a bit more.

Chrys said...

First time reader. I completely enjoyed this blog. I love mythology and wish my University offered more courses. Great blog.

Miss Havisham's Tea Party said...

Thank you, Margaret. I am channeling Aphrodite in the worst way. I hope it helps! Dating is awful.

wv: mighte (Hiker isn't the only blogger with serendipitous word verification)

Patsy Cline knows.

Cafe Observer said...

4 sum crazy reason this reminds me of a Potato. 4give me.

Margaret said...

Elizabeth: I'll put your blue goddess in the queue.

RaNdOm FuN.... said...

i always liked aphrodite....

ST said...

Nice tale of Aphrodite Margaret. I love all those stories about goddesses. By the way, Radha is the epitome of love of course, but here in India officially we have the husband-wife duo of Kama and Rethy who preside over the love department- or maybe desire and pleasure.

Margaret said...

ST: Thanks for the info. I will definitely defer to your knowledge.

Christina Trejo ~ The Tupperware Lady said...

I need a Goddess for patients & prosperity :) I would love to see what you have for those 2!!!

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

A pleasure to read your work. Hmmm - I wish I had a goddess who would cure the cancer plaguing my daughter. Oh, and one for quirkiness and irreverance. :)

♥Mrs. Tantra♥ said...

I love this story... I love to hear and read stories of goddesses, especially Aphrodite. She has humor. Nice prose, I really enjoy your blogging.

ram said...

wow

J&D said...



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