Friday, August 24, 2007

Aphrodite Ourania

In Hesiod's "Theogony" (c. 700 BCE) which tells the stories of the origins of the Greek gods, Aphrodite is said to be born from the testicles of the sky god, Ouranos, and the sea. This archaic terracotta from the sanctury of Hera Limenaia at Perachora has been interpreted as an image of Aphrodite emerging out of the scrotum of Ouranos. Fascinating, no? Do you think it is a scrotum? Seems feasible to me, although we can't prove it.
Here's Aphrodite's birth myth from "Theogony" lines 188-206. (Setting the scene: Kronos has just castrated his father, Ouranos, with a sickle and thrown the testicles/genitals away. The blood from the wound fell on Earth and generated the Erinyes/Furies, the Giants and the Ash-tree Nymphs) while...

“The genitals, cut off with admant
And thrown from land into the stormy sea,
‘Were carried for a long time on the waves.
White foam surrounded the immortal flesh,
And in it grew a girl. At first it touched
On holy Cythera, from there it came
To Cyprus, circled by the waves. And there
The goddess came forth, lovely, much revered,
And grass grew up beneath her delicate feet.
Her name is Aphrodite among men
And gods, because she grew up in the foam,
And Cytherea, for she reached that land,
And Cyprogenes from the stormy place
Where she was born, and Philommedes from
The genitals, by which she was conceived.
Eros is her companion; fair Desire
Followed her from the first, both at her birth
And when she joined the company of the gods.
From the beginning, both among gods and men,
She had this honour and received this power:
Fond murmuring of girls, and smiles, and tricks,
And sweet delight, and friendliness and charm.”

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