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Differences Between Aphrodite and Venus – Part II – The Extended Family

Did you miss part I – Differences Between Aphrodite and Venus? Go check it out.

It took a while before Rome adopted Venus, but when it did, it went all the way. Like most Roman gods, Venus did not have stories of her own, just “inherited” those of Aphrodite. And one of those stories made her the central character for Rome's history.

See, Aphrodite caused the Trojan war by making Helen fall for Paris. She remained loyal to the Trojan side, lost the war, the city, Helen and watched as all inhabitants were killed or enslaved. But she did manage to help a handful of people escape from the burning ruins of Troy, including Aeneas, her own son. (What? Gods getting a bit of nepotism in play? No! Who would've thought?!)

Son of Aphrodite, who was now slowly turning into Venus, Aeneas had an odd behavior, rejecting love for duty and filial piety, and ended up founding the Roman Empire, and continued one of the most complicated family trees in history, which started with Zeus and Electra, continued with Aphrodite and Anchises, then with Rhea and Ares (at this point fully converted into Mars) and ended with the Julio-Claudian family.

Do you know any Julio-Claudians? Look at them carefully, they are descendants of at least three major gods. The most famous of the Julio-Claudians, Julius Caesar himself, couldn't stress enough his relation to Venus. In one of his classic conceited propaganda moves, Caesar issued a coin which depicted Venus on the obverse and Aeneas with his father on the reverse. The text on the coin was clear and simple: “Caesar”.

Caesar insisted on a form of cult that gave the Greek Aphrodite a very Roman name: Venus Genetrix – Venus the Mother, the Birth-giver. Makes you think what all those births did to her figure.

Caesar allegedly took an oath to dedicate a temple to Venus in Rome if he won the battle of Pharsalus – which he won. He commissioned the Venus Genetrix statue to a certain sculptor named Arkesilaos, who did what artist of the time did best: he copied a Greek original. The Roman Venus Genetrix, clothed with a peplos that only underlined her female forms, was copied after a Greek Aphrodite sculpted by the famous Callimachus.

Caesar took the opportunity to add a status of himself and one of Cleopatra in his new temple of Venus. I wonder how Cleopatra felt, when she was compared to Venus on a daily basis.  

This post first appeared on Ancient Links, please read the originial post: here

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Differences Between Aphrodite and Venus – Part II – The Extended Family


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