Aphrodite & Eros: The Development of Erotic Mythology in by Barbara Breitenberger

By Barbara Breitenberger

An interdisciplinary research of the Archaic period--using literary, iconographical, and cultic evidence--shows the distinctive thought at the back of the 2 deities of affection. Aphrodite's personality, sphere of impression, and serve as function in her conventional myths and are good mirrored in cult.

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Presumably Thucydides makes Pericles imply that a common love for the polis keeps the people together. e. when her function as unifier of the demos is required. We have seen earlier that this role is already indicated in the myth about Theseus. The coins that were minted when Cleisthenes restructured Attica in the last decade of the 6th century BC commemorate Aphrodite ΠάνδημοϚ and her link with Theseus’ synoecism of the demes. New interest in the goddess in this specific function emerges during and after the liberation of Athens from the rule of Cassander and Demetrius of Phaleron and the restoration of democracy in the 2nd decade of the 3rd century BC.

36 Elsewhere in Sparta (Paus. 3,17,5), she had a temple where her cult epiclesis was Ἀρεία. Pausanias points out the antiquity of the cult images there, but of course we cannot take their great age for granted. Besides, there are later sources which provide aitia in order to explain this strange phenomenon. Lactantius (Inst. 1,20,29-32) tells why the statue of Ἀϕροδίτη ’ΕνόπλιοϚ was erected. While the Spartans were besieging Messene, a part of the Messenian army slunk away and attacked Sparta. In order to defend their city, the Spartan women armed themselves and fought successfully against the enemy.

87 The civic aspect of his deeds is contrasted with the depiction of Heracles’ exploits: the latter fights against wild animals and foreign monsters. Literature also shows an increasing interest in myths about Theseus. Since poetry tends to inspire artistic representation, the emergence of vase paintings showing Theseus as a civilizer has often been interpreted as illustrating an epic, the Theseid, intended to present a national hero to the Athenians. 89 In the works of Bacchylides and Pherecydes, contemporary politics under Cimon are brought into a relationship with Theseus.

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