55. Εἰς Ἀφροδίτην.
To Aphrodite, Goddess of Sexual Attraction
Οὐρανία, πολύυμνε, φιλομμειδὴς Ἀφροδίτη,
Heavenly Lady of many love songs, smile-loving Aphrodite,
ποντογενής, γενέτειρα θεά, φιλοπάννυχε, σεμνή,
Pontos-born generative Goddess, fond of all-night festivities, exalted
νυκτερία ζεύκτειρα, δολοπλόκε μῆτερ Ἀνάγκης
Night-time joining Queen, enticement-weaving mother of Necessity
πάντα γὰρ ἐκ σέθεν ἐστίν, ὑπεζεύξω δέ <τε> κόσμον
In every way, for out of thou’s essence, Zeus above sows the cosmos
καὶ κρατέεις τρισσῶν μοιρῶν, γεννᾶις δὲ τὰ πάντα,
And rules the threefold Fates, originating from thou in every way
ὅσσα τ' ἐν οὐρανῶι ἐστι καὶ ἐν γαίηι πολυκάρπωι
How many, then, among Ouranos’ hearths and Gaia’s plenteous fruits,
ἐν πόντου τε βυθωι τε, σεμνὴ Βάκχοιο πάρεδρε,
Within Pontos’ depths, too? Exalted Bacchae, attending
τερπομένη θαλίαισι, γαμοστόλε μῆτερ Ἐρώτων,
Delightful festivities, wedding-providing mother of the Erotes’
Πειθοῖ λεκτροχαρής, κρυφία, χαριδῶτι,
And Peitho’s marriage-bed delights, secret delights giving,
φαινομένη, τ' ἀφανής, ἐρατοπλόκαμ', εὐπατέρεια,
Seen and unseen. Lovely-haired Lady, nobly sired,
νυμφιδία σύνδαιτι θεῶν, σκηπτοῦχε, λύκαινα,
Dining with Nymphs divine, scepter-bearing Lycian,
γεννοδότειρα, φίλανδρε, ποθεινοτάτη, βιοδῶτι,
Generation-giving Queen, fond of prolonging men’s desire, life-giving
ἡ ζεύξασα βροτοὺς ἀχαλινώτοισιν ἀνάγκαις
Center of Zeus-sown mortals’ unbridled compulsions
καὶ θηρῶν πολὺ φῦλον ἐρωτομανῶν ὑπὸ φίλτρων·
Along with beasts of many species, Eros-manic under love’s spell.
ἔρχεο, Κυπρογενὲς θεῖον γένος, εἴτ' ἐν' Ὀλύμπωι
Come, Kypros-born Lady divine, either from Olympia,
ἐσσί, θεὰ βασίλεια, καλῶι γήθουσα προσώπωι,
Goddess Basileia, or beautiful Ge’s divine surface,
εἴτε καὶ εὐλιβάνου Συρίης ἕδος ἀμφιπολεύεις,
Or from sweetly frankincensed Syria’s seat attending,
εἴτε σύ γ' ἐν πεδίοισι σὺν ἅρμασι χρυσεοτεύκτοις
Or from Ge’s fertile-plains’ riding a chariot of gold,
Αἰγύπτου κατέχεις ἱερῆς γονιμώδεα λουτρά,
Or Egypt’s foundational, holy, fertile waters,
ἢ καὶ κυκνείοισιν ὄχοις ἐπὶ πόντιον οἶδμα
Or yet with swans, carried upon Pontos’ swells,
ἐρχομένη χαίρεις κητῶν κυκλίαισι χορείαις,
Come, divine power, charming the sea-creatures in a circling dance,
ἢ νύμφαις τέρπηι κυανώπισιν ἐν χθονὶ δίηι
With cyan-blue Nymphs frolicking within earth’s two
θῖνας ἐπ' αἰγιαλοῖς ψαμμώδεσιν ἅλματι κούφωι·
Banks, and upon the shores’ sandy, salty reprieve.
εἴτ’ ἐν Κύπρωι, ἄνασσα, τροφῶι σέο, ἔνθα καλαί σε
Then on Kypros, Anassa, nurture thou there the beautiful,
παρθένοι ἄδμηται νύμφαι τ' ἀνὰ πάντ’ ἐνιαυτὸν
Unified, untamed Nymphs, too, rising all around, annually
ὑμνοῦσιν, σέ, μάκαιρα, καὶ ἄμβροτον ἁγνὸν Ἄδωνιν.
Hymned together with happy and immortal pure Adonis.
ἐλθέ, μάκαιρα θεά μάλ' ἐπήρατον εἶδος ἔχουσα·
Come, blessed Goddess, so lovely, appear and hold fast
ψυχῆι γάρ σε καλῶ σεμνῆι ἁγίοισι λόγοισιν.
Psyche with beautiful, solemn, pure words.
Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη) is the immortal Goddess who personifies the obsessive sweet torment of sexual attraction. Her realm is the inexplicable power of sexual desire. She has at her command winged cherub archers (Ερως, Ερωτες), her children, who can pierce the heart of anyone, embedding him or her with love and desire for another, irrespective of gender.
Ourania (Οὐρανία) means “heavenly Lady, Goddess of the heavens.” Most traditions say Aphrodite was born of Ouranos (Οὐρᾰνός, Ὠρανός), God of the heavens.
Aphrodite is also said to be born of Ouranos’ son Pontos (Πόντος), the primeval God of the sea, because one night when Ouranos lay upon Gaia (Γαῖα)/Ge (Γῆ), Goddess of earth, Kronos (Κρόνος), God of time, castrated his father and cast his genitals into the sea, from whence arose the sea’s foamy froth and the Goddess Aphrodite. (Aphros (ἀφρός) means “foam, froth.”) The salty sea water is poetically compared to divine semen with the earth its partner and foam/Aphrodite arising from the collision of the two. This is consistent with the ocean’s epithet, “Gaia’s ox (γαιήοχε).”
Alternative birth stories depict Aphrodite as the daughter of the Titan Goddess Dione (Δῐώνη) by Zeus (Ζεύς), God of lightning and the spark of fire/spark of life.
Aphrodite is often referred to by the places she is associated with or by her divine attributes. She is called the Kyprian and the Paphian because she is believed to have been born on the island of Kypros (Κύπρος) and because of an important temple to her in the Kyprian city of Paphos (Πάφος). Aphrodite is called Lycian because of a religious center in Pinara in the Xanthos valley of Lycia dedicated to Apollo, Athena, and Aphrodite.
Aphrodite is called Kythera because of her temple on the island of Kythera (Κύθηρα) off the southern Peloponnesian coast. She is called the Korinthian Goddess because of her temple in Korinth (Κόρινθος).
Aphrodite is called smile-loving (Φιλομμειδὴς) which may be a pun for “plan-loving” or “genital-loving (Φιλομμηδης).” Meedos (μῆδος) means “plan,” referring to the contrivances lovers go through, and meedos (μῆδος) also means “genitals,” a favorite of Aphrodite, the Goddess of sexual love.
Aphrodite is the geneteira (γενέτειρα), Goddess of generation, because she inspires the desire for sexual intercourse which results in procreation. In Nonnos’ Dionysiaca, Harmonia (Ἀρμονία), the Goddess of union, calls Aphrodite the:
“…root of life, seedsower of being, midwife of nature, hope of the whole universe, at the bidding of your will the unbending Fates do spin their complicated threads.”
Harmonia (Ἀρμονία) is the immortal Goddess of union, literally “arising (Ἀ) + flow-of (ρ) + one-ness, union (μονία).”
In Hippolytus by Euripides, the Nurse, speaking of Aphrodite, says:
“. . . from her all nature springs; she sows the seeds of love, inspires the warm desire to which we sons (sic) of earth all owe our being.”
Lucretius dedicated his treatise, On the Nature of the Universe, to Venus (Aphrodite), saying “it is your doing that under the wheeling constellations of the sky all nature teems with life…Through you all living creatures are conceived…you alone are the guiding power of the universe and without you nothing emerges into the shining sunlit world to grow in joy and loveliness…”
Aphrodite is said to be fond of all-night festivities because wedding celebrations last throughout the night. She is the “Night-time joining (νυκτερία ζεύκτειρα) Queen” because many amorous liaisons take place under the cover of darkness. Zeukteira (ζεύκτειρα) means joining, a euphemism for intercourse. Zeus is the immortal God of the spark of fire/spark of life and the male fertility principle, literally “spark (ζ) + essence (ε) + pure (ύ).” Aphrodite is revered by the Bacchae, devotees of Bacchos (Βάκχος), God of wine, because of the association of wine with romance.
Ananke (Ἀνάγκης) is the immortal Goddess of necessity, that which is necessary, that which is required and unavoidable. Aphrodite is the mother of the joining which is required/necessary for reproduction. The Orphic Poems posit that the first two principles were water and earth, followed by time joined with Ananke/inevitability “to symbolize the universal generative cause.” In Euripides’ Alcestis the Chorus says that nothing is stronger than Ananke/necessity.
The Moirai (Μοῒραι) are three Goddesses who oversee mortal fate: spinning, weaving, and cutting the threads of life.
Hestia (Ἑστία, Ἱστία, Ἑστίη) is the Goddess of hearth fires and altar fires; here, the Goddess of the fires of heaven, that is, the stars and planets.
Peitho (Πειθώ) is the immortal Goddess of persuasion and seduction, a key presence in “marriage-bed delights.”
Nymphs (Νύμφαι) are beautiful young Goddesses who prevail over particular locations in nature. Brides and bridegrooms were referred to as Nymphs.
Anassa (ἄνασσα) and basileia (βασίλεια) mean Queen, Lady, Ruler.
Adonis ((Ἀδωνις) is the God of tragic, untimely death who is reborn each spring through the will of Aphrodite. Adonis is said to be from Syria.
Psyche (Ψῡχή) is the immortal Goddess of the Soul.
Aphros (ἀφρός) means “foam, froth,” literally “arising (ἀ) + divinely-animated (φ) + outflow-of (ρ) + entity (ό)ς.” Aphroneo (ἀφρονέω) means “to be silly, act foolish; thoughtless,” liteally “transcending (ἀ) + prudence (φρονέω).” Aphrodite causes foolish, indefensible behavior. Note that the letter phi (Φ), literally “divinely-animated-entity,” figures prominently in words describing mysterious, inexplicable energy, such as light (φωτος), sound (φωνέω), and love (φῐλος). Di- (δί-) means two, double, divide in two, or through. Tee (τη) means here, there. Taken together, Aphrodite (Ἀφροδίτη) means “froth, foam (Ἀφρο) + two (δί) + here (τη).”
Note that Kypros (Κυπρος), Aphrodite’s most cited home, means pregnancy (Κυ) + precursor (προ-).
 Hesiod Theogony 188, Cicero De Natura Deorum 3.21, Apuleius 6.6, Nonnus Dionysiaca 1.86, et al.
 Hesiod, Theogony 176.
 Homer Iliad 5.370; Euripides Helen 1098; Apollodorus 1.13.
 Nonnos, Dionysiaca 41.315-317, Books 36-48, trans. W.H.D. Rouse, (Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1940), 219.
 Euripides (circa 428 BCE), Hippolytus, The Plays of Euripedes, trans. Edward P. Coleridge (London: George Bell & Sons, York Street, Covent Garden, 1891), 87.
 Lucretius, “Book I. Matter and Space,” On the Nature of the Universe, translated by R.E. Latham, Penguin Books, Middlesex, England (1951).
 The Orphic Poems, “The Hieronyman Theogony,” Fragment 54, by M.L. West, Oxford University Press, Great Clarendon Street, Oxford, 1983, p. 178.
 “Chorus: ‘I have soared aloft with poetry and with high thought, and though I have laid my hand to many a reflection, I have found nothing stronger than Necessity [Ananke], nor is there any cure for it in the Thracian tablets set down by the voice of Orpheus nor in all the simples [cures] which Phoebus [Apollo] harvested in aid of trouble-ridden mortals and gave to the sons of Asclepius.’”
Euripides. Alcestis 962-972 ff, with an English translation by David Kovacs. Cambridge. Harvard University Press. 1994. http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0088%3Acard%3D962
 Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21- 23; Nonnos, Dionysiaca 42. 1 ff .