For today’s post, I have decided to take a look at a lesser-known affair in Greek myth. Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, and Hermes, the messenger of the Gods, had an affair. This is largely overshadowed by Aphrodite’s more famous love matches with God of war Ares and human Adonis. I have previously written about her love story with Adonis and now I want to look at this lesser-known affair!
Aphrodite was married to the God of the forge, Hephaestus. This was a marriage that had been arranged by Zeus soon after Aphrodite arrived on Mount Olympus to prevent the Gods from fighting for her hand! The sea-born Goddess of sexuality was not happy to be married off to the simple blacksmith of the Gods. Being very sensual and seductive, it is unsurprising that she became known as sexually voracious. The energy of the Greek Goddess of love, beauty, sexuality, and fertility is one that embraces honoring the body as a temple of pleasure!
The relationship began when Hermes was rejected by Aphrodite, and with the help of Zeus won over the object of his affection. What began as a classic one-sided romance, turned into an affair that was actually a well-balanced match. This is true, in part, because they each were known for having a free-love mentality. With this shared mentality, it meant that they were understanding of not being the only lover in either’s lives! The union brought about the birth of Hermaphroditos, a God that was the perfect balance of male and female energies. He is seen as the perfect blending of his parents, who exemplify great elements of their own genders! His name is also where we get the term hermaphrodite, referring to someone born with both sets of sex organs.
Both Hermes and Aphrodite are often seen as simply their most common associations as deities. Hermes is seen as only a messenger, and Aphrodite is seen as only a love Goddess. However, each of them is much older, and deeper rooted deities. Hermes may have been one and the same as the Great God Pan, instead of his father as he is portrayed in later classical myths. Aphrodite is herself a truly Great Goddess who began from primordial deities originating in Asia. For example, many scholars believe she began as Innana, Ishtar, or Astarte. In my opinion, all of these things taken together prove that the pairing of these two deities in Greek myth is one of the most interesting romantic links in myth, that isn’t talked about! I hope you have enjoyed this post. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Note on Image: The image at the top of the post is Hermes and Venus Gazing into a Mirror (1885) by Walter Crane. I found the image on https://heckyeahhermes.tumblr.com/post/62322730936/art-mirrors-art-walter-crane-hermes-and-venus.
- Goddesses in Every Woman by Jean Shinoda Bolen
- Gods in Everyman by Jean Shinoda Bolen
- Mythology by Edith Hamilton
- Bulfinch’s Mythology by Thomas Bulfinch