Children are fascinated by the glamour and mythology of ancient Greek culture. A study unit on Greek gods is sure to delight both boys and girls who revel in the many stories in which the gods are featured. Aphrodite is one such goddess. It is important to make these lessons age-appropriate; many original Greek tales are sexually explicit and are not appropriate for all ages.
Who Is Aphrodite?
Like many pagan cultures, each Greek god represented an aspect of human emotion or experience and was said to be the protector or producer of it. Aphrodite was no different and was worshiped as the goddess of love, beauty, fertility and the protectress of sailors. Like all Greek gods and goddesses, Aphrodite is immortal. This means that she will never die. She also possesses a magical girdle, or corset, that makes the wearer an irresistible object of love to those who see her in it.
Origins of the Aphrodite Myth
There are two origin stories for the birth of Aphrodite. Because these myths were handed down by word of mouth through centuries, they do not always match each other. Poets who wrote epic tales of the gods and their immortal lives have different versions of Aphrodite's myth. The poet Hesiod said that Aphrodite was born from the sea and then blown to the island of Cyprus, where she was robed in finery by the seasons. The poet Homer said she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione and does not mention her rising from sea foam.
Aphrodite and the Trojan War
Stories of Aphrodite's involvement with mortals abound in Greek mythology. One story credits Aphrodite with beginning the Trojan War. Myth has it that a man named Paris was asked to choose the most beautiful of three goddesses, including Aphrodite. He picked Aphrodite when she offered to give him the love of the most beautiful woman if he picked her. The woman Aphrodite gave him was Helen of Sparta. Paris and Helen fell in love and Paris took her, without permission, from her home back to his own in Troy. The Spartans and Trojans began a terrible war over Helen's "kidnapping."
Aphrodite and the Golden Fleece
The Greek myth of the golden fleece is one that children are often told. Aphrodite played her part in this story as well. Jason, another mythological figure, asked the king who reigned over the land in which the fleece was located if he could remove it. The king refused. Hera, another goddess, asked Aphrodite to help Jason get the fleece. Aphrodite made the king's daughter, Medea, fall in love with Jason. Medea helped Jason get the fleece from her father's property.
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