This is the exciting story of the goddess of beauty and love who rose fully grown from the foamy sea. In the ancient texts, she had many origins and many histories. Known to the Romans as Venus and to the Greeks as Aphrodite, this gorgeous female who kept human hearts in her grasp also appeared in fantastic stories told by the Minoans and the Sumerians.
Befitting her role, Venus had many lovers including, most famously, the handsome Adonis, as well as a number of the most powerful gods on Mt. Olympus. Among the numerous children resulting from her dalliances was a son, Cupid, whom she often encouraged in the mischief he made with his magic bow and arrows.
Not content with her amorous adventures, Venus involved herself in human events. It was even written that she caused the Trojan War so that her son Aeneas could lead the survivors to present-day Italy and found a dynasty in Rome, thus ensuring that she would be worshipped as the patroness of the city and that Roman emperors would claim her as their ancestor.
Andrew Dalby is historian of antiquity and the author of Bacchus: A Biography.
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