Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was one of the most popular Olympian deities. According to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, while according to Hesiod, she was born from the sea foam produced by Ouranos’s genitals, severed by his son Kronos. Her birthplace was contested by Paphos (Cyprus) and Kythera, hence her epithets Kypris and Kythereia. She was worshipped as Aphrodite Ourania (the heavenly) and Pandemos (“of all folk”, the vulgar), alluding, respectively, to spiritual and to sensual love. Although married to Hephaistos, Aphrodite had numerous lovers, including gods (most notably Ares) and mortals (Adonis or Anchises, to whom she bore Aeneas, progenitor of the Romans). One tradition portrays her as mother of Eros (Cupid), the mischievous winged god. Over the centuries, Aphrodite has inspired such masterpieces of art as the Knidian Aphrodite (by Praxiteles), the Venus de Milo and the Birth of Venus (by Boticelli).
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