The Ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, desire, and all aspects of sexuality. Aphrodite could provoke both gods and mortal men to illicit acts with her beauty and by whispering sweet things in their ears. Born near Cyprus from the mutilated genitalia of the sky god Urano, Aphrodite had a much broader influence than she has traditionally been given, as a simple goddess of love and sex. Adored by men, women, and state officials, she also played an important role in commerce, on the battlefield, and in the politics of Ancient Greek cities. Additionally, Aphrodite was honored as the protector of those who sailed the ocean, and even less surprisingly, of courtesans and prostitutes. The equivalent Roman goddess was Venus.
In mythology, the goddess was born when Cronos castrated his father Urano (Ouranos) with a sickle and threw his genitals into the ocean, where Aphrodite rose from the foam (afros). In other versions, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione, the Titan. Hesiod relates the first version and Homer the second, and the Greeks were conflicted by such obvious contradictions on the part of their two greatest myth-makers. And indeed, Plato even created a theory to reconcile the two ancient authors, suggesting that there were, in fact, two different goddesses with the same name, one to represent (from his point of view) the superior love between men and one to represent represent the love between man and woman. Plato called them 'Celestial Aphrodite' and 'Pandemic Aphrodite', respectively.