Just a Little Bit about Aphrodite

So I'm saying goodbye to my vacation and I'm watching this lovely sunset over Newport Beach, California:

and I'm listening to four crazed girls debate the perfect names for the yachts they will one day all own, and I'm also listening to my mother-in-law rail against the media because of its paltry attention to a certain Iberian tennis god, and my thoughts turn, of course, to Aphrodite, who got me into this mess in the first place.

The Greek goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite was born of the sea and the perfect sunset. Her parentage is actually a bit vague (probably because the Greeks co-opted her from the even more ancient Sumerians, who called her Inanna). Of all the stories about the origins of Aphrodite, however, the best one is this:

Long before Zeus and the Olympians, the world was ruled by Gaia, mother earth, and Ouranos, father sky. Ouranos was a lusty fellow, so lusty, in fact, that Gaia could not even deliver the children she was impregnated with because Ouranos would not leave the poor girl alone. Ouranos didn't care. He hated his offspring. But Gaia loved her children and, also (can you blame her?) she was sick of carrying the growing brood inside her. So, she gave a sharpened flint to her son Kronos and, when Ouranos came a-calling, Kronos reached out from inside his mother, grabbed his father's balls, sliced them off and threw them into the sea. Eventually, long after the murder of Kronos by his own son Zeus, Aphrodite was born of Ouranos's seed and the sea itself. One day she just walked out of the Mediterranean, right around Paphos, Cypress.

Pretty grisly origins for the goddess of love, wouldn't you say? But love can be a pretty grisly business, and sunsets and the sea are an eternally dangerous combination, so dangerous that there is only one thing guaranteed to ward off Aphrodite's spell if you and your honey should happen to find yourself on a boat, on the sea, at sunset: a gaggle of girls and at least one mother-in-law obsessed with tennis.

(As for the yacht names: so easy: Finnegan's Wake.)


Shell Sherree said...

Oh, my! I'm sorry, I laughed aloud when I read what you wrote about Kronos's remedy for Ouranos. {Not sure what that says about me.} Another fine one, Margaret - and while under the influence of a holiday sunset, no less. Safe trip home.

Joanne walked barefoot on the milky way said...

Hi Ms. Margaret! No wonder Aphrodite's the way she is. It's in her genes :)

Jean Spitzer said...

So Aphrodite is Zeus's great aunt?

altadenahiker said...

Kids, I swear. Did Kronos get a time-out?

Susan C said...

Four girls? Are your girls at a stage where family vacations are tolerable only if they have like-aged companions?

Funny piece!

Debbie said...

Oh this is delightful! I did not know this story, and I used to read Edith Hamilton's mythology when I was on the loo. I guess she was too proper to write about the sexual and grisly details. Perhaps you will be interested in giving your take on the mystery photograph I've posted.

pasadenaadjacent said...

I like the "spoken" girly dreams. How sweet is that!

Gaia (wasn't that the name of a model played by Angellina Jolie?)

Botteccelli's depiction of Aphrodite on the half shell. Now I know why; (oysters/testicals) I get it.

Here is the rumored location where she emerged from the sea

Here is a Flikr site whose administrator is very good at giving concise explanations of her travels

pasadenaadjacent said...

try again

the rock

Otherwise go into the flikr site and cyprus is located in the Mediterranean set. Look for a rock.

... daisy... said...

welcome back! :)))



Petrea said...

You're back! Yay!

Besides the obvious, which is that I'm charmed by another one of your stories, Scheherazade, I'd also like to mention that this is a very nice photo.

Laila Of Course! said...

Hahahah. LOVED this post. And sometimes that's all you can do to stop someone from not letting your brood out, huh?


Be sure and pop by & leave a note! It would really make my day. :)


Cafe Pasadena said...

Welcome back, MF! It's good to have your serious, professorial, no nonsense blog style back online.

I'm just wundering who R these 4 crazed females debating the perfect names for "their yachts"? My guess is 1st, obviously, Petrea de Good Girl, KB her purse holder, Little Laurie with her way with words, and La Canadian KCher.

Lynne said...

Yacht names! I love Finnegan's Wake, at least I did after Kate explained Wake has a second, more nautical meaning. My sail boat (no yacht for me) would be The Mr. Beaumont. If you watched Friends you will know why.

Welcome home, and I think Nadal has an injury so he's not playing right now, if that helps explain why there is no "news".

Margaret said...

Shell: It's a pretty wild story. Makes you realize that these stories of fathers usurping sons go way, way back.

Hi Ms. Joanne! Heaven help us from our genetics.

Jean: No wonder Zeus didn't marry Aphrodite himself, he was probably creeped out by the great-aunt thing.

AH: All I can say is that that Kronos really had balls.

Susan: You guessed it. My girls each got to bring a friend for the last few days of the trip. It just made it easier.

Debbie: Thanks for the visit. I'll be sure to check your blog out.

PA: You are awesome. Thanks for the links.

Daisy: Thanks.

Forex Rajput: Thanks, I'll be sure to drop by.

Petrea: Thanks. I'm getting a little more daring with the camera. You make it seem so easy, but, of course, it's not easy at all.

Laila: Glad I got you to laugh.

Pup:Nope. The crazed girls were my daughters and their friends.

Italo said...

Ciao Margaret. :) Funny description, and true!
So, your vacation is over. I can just wish you a nice week! Ciao Italo.

pasadenaadjacent said...

Have you ever had the pleasure of meeting Buddy Ebsens ex-wife? She lives in the area. Don't get her started on Buddy (bitter to the tenth degree)

Alison said...

WOW! I never heard that story of Aphrodite before. So nasty!

Hope you had a great vacation - I'm going to Myrtle Beach this Saturday for a week.

BTW, I love your hair in your profile pic!

Linda Dove said...

OMG, Finnegan's Wake is so perfect, it's almost scary!

Margaret said...

Lynne: I almost forgot you! Poor Nadal, may he recover swiftly and save us all.

Italo: Thanks. I wish you a nice week too.

PA: Never met the ex-wife, but I've walked by his/her(?) old house many times.

Alison: Have a great vacation. I'm expecting some fabulous Haikus.

Linda: I'm so glad someone besides me see's how perfect that boat name is. I want a boat just so I can call it that.

pasadenapio said...

Coming back from vacation is indeed a grisly reality!

Shanna said...

Hello Margaret. I'm new to your blog. What a story about Aphrodite! I read mythology, but never saw that version before with its grisly details.

Here is a little rhyme written by my former husband when we were in college:

There was an old sculptor named Phideus
Whose knowledge of form was insidious
He carved Aphrodite without any nighty
And startled the strictly fastidious.
-R. Smith

gaelikaa said...

Do you know the son 'Finnegan's Wake'? It's great fun. I didn't know Aphrodite was the Sumerian's Inanna. But I knew she was the Roman's Venus.

Margaret said...

Shanna: Love that limerick. THanks for sharing.

Desiree said...

Sheesh, go away for a couple of days and miss THREE posts!
Love this, and I would have really loved a link to
a) an image (like your short story) of said mother-in-lay
b) link to Iberian tennis god!