Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty, love and desire, is among the best known of the Greek Pantheon. Was she the daughter of Dione by Zeus? Or did she arise spontaneously from the sea, a woman on a giant scallop shell, as seen in the famous Boticelli Venus (her Roman counterpart)? Accounts differ.
Aphrodite was often seen with the mischievous young Eros (Cupid), he of the heart-piercing arrows of love. Like her, he was said to have been self-born from the foam of the sea.
In other accounts, he was her son by Ares, her brother the war god, or the messenger god Hermes. Aphrodite married Hephaestus, the crippled god of the forge who was cast out by his mother Hera and raised elsewhere, but returned to Olympus as a master craftsman.
The myrtle tree, as well as the swan, sparrow and dove, were sacred to the lovely Aphrodite.