Aphrodite (Roman Venus)
The Greek goddess of Love and child of Zeus, said to have been born from the sea. The wife of Hephaistos, who caught her making love to the god Ares (Homer); she also had affairs with various mortals - Adonis, Phaon, Anchises (by whom she bore Aeneias). She is often shown with her child Eros, and sometimes Peitho (Persuasion). She attends many scenes with a love interest - e.g., Menelaos confronting Helen after Troy. In Greek art from the 4th century BC onwards, she is commonly shown naked, the first artistic nude in the history of art, devised by the sculptor Praxiteles. On many vases a woman attended by Eros might be either the goddess or a mortal bride assimilated to her.
Above left: Detail from an Athenian white-ground clay vase, about 475 BC. London, British Museum D2. © British Museum Licence Plate 11 UK 1007 111
Above right: Marble statue of Aphrodite. Rome, Museo Nazionale Romano © Museo Nazionale Romano, Rome