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APHRODITE

Real Name: Aphrodite Cytherea

Occupation: Goddess of love, beauty and desire, patron deity of courtesans, former Magazine Writer and College Professor

Legal Status: Citizen of Olympus

Identity: The general populace is unaware of the existence of Aphrodite except as a mythological character.

Other Aliases: Anadyomene ("foam born"), Venus (Roman name), Turan (Etruscan name), Inanna/Innina (Sumerian names), Astarte/Ashtart, (Babylonian names), Ishtar (Phoenician name), Kypris ("Lady of Cyprus"), Victoria Nutley Starr, Vanessa Reason (mortal identities); Aphrodite Pendemos, Aphrodite Urania, et al

Place of Birth: The Island of Cythera, now part of modern Greece

Marital Status: Separated

Known Relatives: Zeus (father), Dione (mother), Chiron, Hades, Poseidon (uncles); Demeter, Hera, Hestia (aunts); Apollo, Ares, Dionysus, Hercules, Hermes; Artemis, Athena, Eileithyia, Eris, Hebe, Helen, Pandia, Persephone (half-sisters); Hephaestus (half-brother/estranged husband); Cupid (son); Aeneas (son, deceased); Harmonia (daughter), Psyche (daughter-in-law); Consus, Pomona, Vertumnus, Neptunia (cousins); Cronus (grandfather), Rhea (grandmother); Gaea (great-grandmother), Ouranus (great-grandfather, deceased); Iulus (grandson, deceased), Julius Caesar, King Arthur (descendants, deceased)

Group Affiliation: The Gods of Olympus, The 1950s Avengers,

Base of Operations: Olympus

First Appearance: (historical) Venus #1, (recent) Submariner #57

History: Aphrodite is the daughter of Zeus, Supreme ruler of the Olympian Gods, and Dione, a Titaness, who he took as his eighth wife. After Zeus took Hera as his wife, Hera drove many of Zeus's previous wives from Olympus. The goddess, Leto, took refuge on the island of Delos where her children, Apollo and Artemis were born, and Io eventually fled to Egypt after Hera had transformed her into a cow. Her son, Epaphus, became ruler of Egypt and Libya in the 15th Century BC. Dione had fled to the island of Cythera where she finally conceived Aphrodite. (In later myths, it was claimed that Aphrodite sprang from the sea after Cronus had slew Ouranus, but this may not be accurate.) Dione instructed the wind-god Zephyros to carry the young goddess Aphrodite to Cyprus to hide her from Hera’s wrath. According to legend, Aphrodite was discovered living there by Hermes, the messenger-god, and possibly assisted by him in getting admitted to the pantheon of the Greek Gods.

With her arrival in Olympus, Aphrodite was immediately barraged by the male gods of Olympus wanting to claim her as a wife. Zeus feared that they would fight over Aphrodite's hand in marriage because of her unparalleled beauty but was advised by his own wife, Hera, on how to handle the matter. She petitioned her own son, Hephaestus, the smith-god, in order to marry Aphrodite in order to quell some of the bad feelings in their relationship. This union however was much to Aphrodite's disapproval. As a rather hedonistic goddess, Aphrodite was most displeased to be married to the lame blacksmith-god although she appreciated the many baubles he created for her. Subsequently, Aphrodite had several affairs while wedded to Hephaestus.

One of her most popular affairs was with Ares, the god of war. The god Apollo, however, informed Hephaestus of the affair to protect his honor. Hephaestus set up a trap in his marital bed to catch them in the affair and expose it. When Aphrodite and Ares once more engaged in another sexual liaison, the bed slammed shut around them as a trap as Hephaestus pushed them out in front of all the gods to embarrass them. The humiliation forced Aphrodite to end her affair with the war-god, but Hephaestus never forgave her despite the fact he was still in love with her. One of Aphrodite’s attendants, Aglaea of the Charities (Charis to the Romans), took pity on the smith-god and became his second wife.

Sometime during the affair, Aphrodite gave birth to Harmonia, a daughter of Ares, who became ancestor of the Amazons, and his sons Deimos and Phobos. In later years, Deimos and Phobos were slain by the heroes Hercules and Thor and restored to life by the primeval goddess Nyx who began calling herself their mother. Because she restored them to life after being slain, she was in a sense the mother of their new forms.

One of Aphrodite’s more famous lovers was the Phoenician prince Adonis. Fond of the prince since his birth, she accepted him as a lover when he became a young man and began hiding him in a chest to spirit him to Olympus for their romantic interludes. She once entrusted the hiding of the chest to her sister Persephone, who peeked inside it and similarly fell in love with him. Jealous for his attentions, Aphrodite went to Zeus for absolution, but he instead arbitrated the case to Calliope, one of the nine daughters of song, who were also his daughters, to arbitrate the case rather than show preferential treatment. Calliope decreed that Adonis had the right to share his time with both goddesses. Dissatisfied with the solution, Aphrodite allegedly directly or indirectly caused the death of Calliope’s son, Orpheus (Not to be confused with the Eternal Khoryphos). A boar, however, killed Adonis, on his free time, during a hunt. Aphrodite mourned him awhile and even visited the Underworld a few times to keep tabs between him and Persephone.

Aphrodite also took offense over the accusation that the Phoenician princess Psyche was more beautiful than herself. She instructed her son Eros to smite the mortal princess with a mad love for a beast or social reject, but Eros instead scratched himself with one of his own arrows and fell in love and married Psyche himself.

Aphrodite was also the mother of the Dardanian prince Aeneas by Anchises, a ruler of Dardania. Indirectly responsible for the war after promising the hand of Helen to the Trojan Prince Paris, she protected Aeneas through the war even after getting wounded by the Argive general Diomedes. Aphrodite even lent her cestus (a sacred belt) to Hera even though they were supporting opposite’s sides of the war so that Hera could distract him from their involvement in the war. Aphrodite later spirited Paris from a battle with Menelaus and protected Aeneas fleeing Troy after it fell to the Argive armies. He later founded what would be the Roman Empire and was an ancestor of the Caesars. As Venus, her Roman name, Aphrodite became one of the most sacred gods in Roman religion due to her relationship to Aeneas.

At some time in the first millennium, Zeus became aware of several atrocities the Romans were creating in the names of the gods and began severing all ties the Olympian gods had to their mortal worshippers. Although he had interacted directly and indirectly with the Roman senate for years, he masterminded the deaths of the gods by tying the prophecy through the unborn child of the self-styled warrior-goddess Xena for the sake of an illusion that made it seemed the gods were dead. Secretly, Zeus had had the Olympian gods restored to life through spells and enchantments he had already created. Because Aphrodite was not involved or among the Olympian gods seemingly destroyed, she withdrew into a state of depression and languished in the bacchanalic parties of the Roman Emperor Claudius. Slowly sapping her of her godhood, Claudius was slain by Xena before he could become a god himself. Xena had Aphrodite restored to godhood with a golden apple stolen from the realm of the Scandinavian Gods and subsequently reunited with the rest of the Olympians.

Despite her lack of worshippers in Greece and Rome, Aphrodite became a matron goddess of the Amazons and a tutelary protector of Diana, the daughter of Queen Hippolyta who later became the costumed champion Wonder Woman. Since Zeus had removed Olympus from Earth away from mortals, Aphrodite frequently wandered the earth in mortal guise for several years and had several mortal children of whom only a few are known. In the Twentieth Century, she began calling herself Vanessa Nutley-Starr and became an editor for Beauty Magazine although she was still not above using her godly powers to further her status. In the Twentieth Century, she often used her godly powers to protect mortals by emulating several costumed crime-fighters or "superheroes." Although, she publicly revealed herself as the goddess Aphrodite, the general public believed she was a normal woman with superhuman powers paying homage to the ancient Greek and Roman myths.

As Nutley, Aphrodite fell in love with wealthy editor Whitney Hammond and even once flirted with the Eternal Gilgamesh (not to be confused with the Sumerian king Gilgamesh). Her opponent for Hammond’s affections, Della Mason, hired detectives Sam Stout and Willie Weed to investigate her past, but neither Della nor Whitney gave the so-called report any credence after they discovered her godly origins.  A psychiatrist, Dr. Walter Dingle who interviewed her also had a mental breakdown after psychoanalyzing her. Another doctor that Della arranged to meet Aphrodite as Nutley also had a mental collapse after meeting her.

Aphrodite’s sister, Jova, attempted to use Aphrodite’s affection for Hammond to have her stripped of her godhood for cavorting with mortals, and Loki of the Asgardian gods tried to use the distraction as an opportunity to invade Olympus, but Aphrodite tricked Loki into exile to the underworld with her although she secretly replaced herself with Jova at the last minute. Loki, however, later escaped this predicament.

In the course of her adventures on Earth, Aphrodite became a member of a short-lived group of heroes known as the Avengers to rescue President Dwight D. Eisenhower from the villainous Yellow Claw. A villain calling himself the Rumor attempted to use her to ensorcel the people of Earth, but the thunder-god Thor and the group First Line rescued her.  As Nutley, Aphrodite left Hammond at his magazine to work as Professor of Humanities at UCLA rather than have to watch him grow old while she stayed young. Among her students was Namorita Prentiss, cousin of Namor the Submariner who fought Ares now recently escaped from his imprisonment. Ares was working with the mind-controlled Hippolyta for Hades, the god of the dead, in an attempt to overthrow Zeus as ruler of the gods, but Aphrodite was saved along with Hercules and the Champions.

Hercules had since become an adventurer on earth following Aphrodite and later joined a new group of heroes called the Avengers. When he was brutally beaten near death by enemies of the Avengers, Aphrodite stood alongside Apollo, Athena and Hephaestus to convince Zeus that the Avengers were not at fault for the injuries that Hercules had received. Realizing his error, Zeus issued an edict forbidding the Olympian Gods from further interfering with earthly matters, but Aphrodite refused to take it to heart as she still had mortal responsibilities in her mortal identity.

For revenge on the Avengers for getting him barred from Earth, Ares tried manipulating Aphrodite into sending Eros to break up the West Coast Avengers.  Believing that Mockingbird was the reincarnation of his deceased wife, he tried to force her to love him. Hercules broke Aphrodite from Ares’ mental control and they together stopped Ares and Eros from destroying the Avengers.

Aphrodite began by now recalled her love to Whitney Hammond and went to look for him as Jova informed her of a threat to him. Since his magazine had folded, Hammond had created the Hanover Computer Dating Service with Chili Hanover and Hedy DeVine. When the service was invaded by the extra-terrestrial Goom to abduct the women of earth as mates, Aphrodite presented him with a perfect mate: Another extra-terrestrial female named Shivoor. Reunited with Whitney as a result, Aphrodite left with him to rekindle their relationship.

Height: 5' 6"
Weight: 380 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Blonde

Unusual Physical Characteristics: Venus is extraordinarily beautiful, perfectly proportioned, and possesses no physical flaws whatsoever.  By the standards of the Western civilization on Earth, she is the epitome of female beauty and one of the most aesthetically perfect female beings in existence. 

It has also been suggested that Aphrodite automatically appears as any mortal man’s “ideal woman” when she appears to them so at times her appearance tends to vary by the individual viewing her.

Strength Level: Aphrodite possesses superhuman strength enabling her to lift (press) 25 tons under optimal conditions.

Known Superhuman Powers: Aphrodite possesses the conventional physical attributes of the Olympian Gods. Like all Olympian Gods, she is immortal. She has not aged since reaching adulthood and cannot die by any known conventional means. She is immune to all known terrestrial diseases and is invulnerable to conventional injury. If wounded, her godly life force would enable her to recover with superhuman speed. It would take an injury of such magnitude that it dispersed a major portion of her bodily molecules to cause her a physical death. Even then, it might be possible for Zeus, Poseidon or a number of gods of equal power working together to revive her. Aphrodite does have some superhuman strength and her own Olympian metabolism gives her far greater than human endurance in all physical activities. (Olympian flesh and bone is about three times as dense as similar human tissue, contributing to the Olympian’s superhuman strength and weight).

Aphrodite seems to have more abilities to tap into and manipulate mystical powers than any other goddess except for perhaps Hera, Demeter or Persephone. Like all gods, she can toss off lightning bolts, teleport through worlds such as from Earth to Olympus, endow mystical properties on people and objects and change and alter her appearance. Foremost in all her abilities is her ability to stir up emotions of devotion within mortals and immortals, even gods not native to Olympus.  She can mentally cloud the perceptions of those mortals who see her and even stir and manipulate the emotions of weak-minded individuals, but she cannot break the emotional ties to those feelings. She can be powerfully charismatic and manipulative; with one kiss, she can force any mortal or immortal to do her bidding, but she seems to be no more as ruthless with this power as she once was.

Weaponry/Paraphernalia: Aphrodite wears a girdle-like belt called a cestus, which by its nature is supposed to increase upon her female attraction and rendered her even more irresistible. Possibly containing a portion of her powers, it has been lent to Hera on occasion to distract Zeus from godly affairs.

Comments: Aphrodite is a recurring minor character in both the Marvel and DC Universes. 

Aphrodite (Venus) was played by Australian actress Alexandra Tydings on Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and it's companion series, Xena. She has also been played by Suzanne Somers and Ursula Andress.

A statue of Venus/Aphrodite was brought to life by Endora in the episode, “Bewitched, Bothered and Baldoni,” of Bewitched, starring Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens, Agnes Moorehead as Endora and Francine York as the animated statue. 

The movie, "Goddess of Love"(1988), also featured a statue of Venus brought to life in the Twentieth Century, but her past conflicts with that of the Aphrodite described here. Portrayed by Vanna White, this Venus had been turned to stone as penance for causing the Trojan War. This alternate history could be passed as delusions of the "Bewitched" Venus or just part of a completely separate alternate reality. 

Clarifications: Aphrodite probably should not be confused with:

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