Aphrodite (Venus) was the goddess of love and beauty. She is said to have sprung from
the sea, giving her the name of Aphrodite- Greek for ‘foam-born’. She was the
patroness of lovers, gardeners and gardens. The rose, lily, hyacinth, crocus and narcissus
were sacred to her, as was the dove, the sparrow, the dolphin and the swan. She was
attended by the Hours and the three Graces: Aglaia, Euphrosyne and Thalia. Flora, goddess
of flowers and Zephyrus, god of the west wind, obeyed her. Aphrodite was very proud and,
as punishment, Zeus ordered her to marry Hephaestus, who was not only unhandsome, but lame
as well. This marriage was very hard on him, as Aphrodite was not known for her fidelity.
She had many affairs, the most notable of which was with Ares (Mars), the god of
war. Ares and Aphrodite had several children: Hermione (Harmonia) and Cupid, who
became known as the god of love.