Venus | Roman goddess in Roman Mythology

Venus in roman mythologyVenus, goddess of love, beauty, and sex in Roman mythology, is one of the most well-known of the goddesses. She was the most beautiful and desirable of all of them and had many lovers.

She was the patron of lovers and prostitutes and was the Roman version of Aphrodite. In this article, we’ll cover her beginnings, struggles, and many escapades with her lovers and children.

Who Is Venus in Roman Mythology?

Venus is the goddess of love, passion, beauty, and sex. She had the ability to make gods and mortals fall in love with her through her charm and beauty. Because of this, she is often pictured as young and nude in artwork. Her name in Latin actually means love, and this kind of love is more related to sex and passion.

Another word that’s linked to her is venerari, which means to love or to revere. However, some believe her name came from the Latin word venenum. This means “poison,” “charm,” or “aphrodisiac” because of her skills in charming. She took many lovers, both male and female, and she became one of the most revered gods.

She was so revered that Julius Caesar claimed a familial connection to the goddess. She was known as the mother of the founder of Rome, and Julius Caesar believed she was in his bloodline. Venus was popular until the rise of Christianity when the mythology of the Romans fell out of favor.

How Was Venus Born: Origin of the Goddess of Love

The birth of Venus was a little unique. She didn’t have parents in the “normal” sense. Her father was Caelus/Uranus, the Titan that Saturn overthrew to take charge of the universe. Saturn went on to become the father of Jupiter and many others. However, after Saturn overthrew his father, he cut off his father’s genitals and threw them into the sea.

It was there that the genitals mixed with the sea, and Venus rose out of the sea foam, fully grown. Many paintings portray her in her origin point, rising out of the water, coming out of a seashell. Technically, she was Jupiter’s grandmother and one of the earliest goddesses. With a Titan father and the sea for a mother, she certainly had a unique beginning.

– The Goddess Epithets: Other Names for Venus

Similar to other gods and goddesses, Venus went by many names. These described her various aspects. While she is most known for her amorous, sexually focused side, she took on many other roles in Roman culture.

We will name a few below:

  • Venus Caelestis, “Heavenly Venus”
  • Venus Cloacina, “Venus the Purifier”
  • Venus Felix, “Lucky Venus”
  • Venus Genetrix, “Venus the Creator” or “Venus the Mother”
  • Venus Victrix, “Venus the Victorious”

Her temples and festivals were built for and celebrated for the various aspects of Venus’ character.

Myths of the Roman Goddess of Love, the Story of Venus

As one of the most important goddesses in the Roman pantheon, Venus has many stories to tell. She had multiple children, but two of them were the most famous: Cupid and Aeneas. Both went on to have their own tales, and Venus enjoyed helping their stories along, whether for good or not.

As for Venus, most of her stories are about the various escapades with her lovers. In Roman culture at the time, Venus’ symbolism was all that was traditionally feminine.

Things like softness, allure, beauty, willingness. Her lovers and other male counterparts portrayed traditionally male characteristics: hardness and roughness.

This opposition was especially evident in her marriage, for she’d married the ugliest of the gods. Despite Venus having such beauty, charm, and allure, she had difficulties in her life and knew the taste of grief.

– Venus and Vulcan: A Marriage Doomed to Fail

Vulcan, the Roman equivalent of Hephaestus, had deformities as a child. Juno, his mother, threw him off of Mt. Etna as soon as he was born because she thought he was too ugly. After he fell, he hurt his legs and thus was maimed for life. He found skills in the forge, and he eventually made his mother a special gift of a chair.

This chair was a trick, though, for it trapped the person who sat on it. Juno sat down and was trapped for three days without food, water, or movement. Vulcan told her that she could be freed if he would be allowed to take Venus as a wife. Jupiter and Juno agreed, and Venus was given to Vulcan in marriage.

However, it was a loveless one. Moreover, there were no children from this union, so it’s possible that it was a sexless one as well. She was often running around with various lovers, and it only fueled Vulcan’s anger. On one occasion, he resorted to another trap to take his revenge.

– Venus and Mars

Mars was perhaps one of Venus’ most famous lovers. He was the god of war, again, the almost complete opposite of soft, loving Venus. He was hard and violent. Venus and Mars slept together on many occasions, and one time, Mercury, the messenger god, caught them in bed.

He was also one of Venus’ lovers, but he hurried away to tell Venus’ husband of what he had seen. Vulcan decided to create a trap for them. He made a net out of almost invisible thread and placed it on the bed. Once the lovers went to bed, they would be trapped in it.

It was just as he’d hoped. Vulcan hurried to tell the gods to come and watch the humiliation of his unfaithful wife and her lover, who happened to be his own brother.

– Venus and Adonis

In Ovid’s “Metamorphoses,” Venus also took a mortal lover, and his name was Adonis. He was known as the most beautiful human, and his beauty was so great he could have almost been a Roman god of beauty.

Venus was struck by her son Cupid’s arrows, and she instantly fell deeply in love with Adonis. They stayed together for a long time until Adonis died from wild animals while on a hunt.

Venus had warned him not to go, but he didn’t listen. He thought that because of his beauty nothing bad would ever happen to him, that everything and everyone would be agreeable. She had to explain to him that wild animals do not act the same way as humans, but he didn’t believe her and left for the hunt.

In the end, he was gored in the groin by a wild boar. Venus was heartbroken. She took his blood and mixed it together with nectar to create a flower in his memory. This flower is the anemone.

– Venus and Her Children

Venus and her childEven though Venus and Vulcan didn’t have any children, Venus had many children by other lovers. The two male gods that are mainly known for being connected to her are Vulcan and Mars. But she also had affairs with Mercury, Adonis, Bacchus, and Anchises. There may have been many others that we haven’t heard about.

With Mars, she had the four children: Cupid, Timor, Metus, and Concordia. Cupid was the god of love, Timor the representation of fear, Metus, the representation of terror, and Concordia, the goddess of harmony.

With Mercury, she had Hermaphroditus who would merge with his female lover to become one being. She also had Fortuna, the personification of luck or fate. This might have been with Jupiter or Mercury. With Anchises, she bore Aeneas, and with Bacchus, she bore Priapus, a fertility god, and the Graces: charm, beauty, and grace.

– Aeneas: Famous Son of Venus

Venus also had a hand in the founding of Rome, as she was the mother of Aeneas, the Trojan warrior who fled to Italian shores. He was the ancestor of Remus and Romulus, the twin founders of Rome.

The story from the “Aeneid” states that Venus disguised herself as a young, virgin woman. She seduced Anchises, one of the members of the Trojan royal family.

They eventually had a child named Aeneas who grew up to be a famous warrior. After Troy fell, Aeneas hurried away to fulfill his destiny, but Juno got in the way.

She tried to cause a seastorm, but Venus asked Jupiter to stop it so that he could make it safely to the other side. Jupiter did, and Aeneas made it to Carthage where he found his lover, Queen Dido.

After that, he left for Italy, and a storm raged again. This time, Venus asked Neptune for help, and he stopped the storm, but he asked for the life of Aeneas’ captain. It was done, and they made it safely to Italy, where Venus supplied her son with all the weapons and armor he needed from Vulcan’s forge.

Even later when Aeneas was hit by an arrow, Venus found a way to help him so that he survived.

– Venus on Cupid and Psyche

Cupid is the god of love. He had arrows that would cause people or gods to fall in love. He used them on his own mother by accident once, causing her to fall in love with Adonis. After Cupid grew up, he fell in love with Psyche, who was mortal.

Her beauty was so great that some thought she might have been even more beautiful than Venus. That angered the goddess of love. So she asked her son to shoot Psyche with a love arrow to make her fall in love with a monster instead.

But Cupid refused, and he married Psyche, but he gave her one rule. She could not look upon his face.

However, it was too tempting for her, and she looked upon him, making him run away. Venus was happy about this and so she took Psyche under her control and gave her a series of tasks to complete.

– Venus’ Revenge

Psyche was now under Venus’ power, and she had to fulfill all her duties because Cupid had run away from her and she was heartbroken. One of the tasks that Venus gave her was to go to the underworld and collect a little bit of Proserpina’s beauty.

Psyche did so, and Proserpina put the beauty into a box for her. But on the journey out of the underworld, her curiosity got the better of her again, and she looked inside the box.

She also thought it might increase her own beauty. After she opened the box, she fell asleep, and Cupid found her there. He put the sleep magic back into the box, and they were reunited.

Cupid helped her to get immortality. Then, they could live together forever, despite his mother’s protests.

– The Battle for Beauty

Venus engaged in a contest for the most beautiful with Juno and Minerva. Juno was Jupiter’s wife and the goddess of marriage. Minerva was Jupiter’s daughter and the goddess of wisdom and warfare.

They were at the wedding of Perseus and Thetis when the goddess Discordia threw a golden apple at the guests. She was angry at not being invited. The golden apple said, “Let the fairest take it,” and the contest began.

They asked Jupiter to decide but he sent them to Paris, who was living as a shepherd at the time. They asked Paris to make the decision, and so they offered him gifts.

Juno offered him power if he wanted; Minerva offered him wisdom; and Venus offered him the chance at being with the most beautiful woman in the world. A romantic at heart, Paris chose Venus’ gift, so Venus then won the contest.

Venus Symbol and Her Art

There were many symbols of Venus, all representing her various aspects. These were the rose, which was a symbol of love, sexual passion, and the female genitalia.

She was also often shown wearing a crown of myrtle which is a green bush with white flowers. Sometimes, she was painted with a seashell as well, representing her unique birth. A seashell is sometimes also a sexual image.

There are many Venus goddess statues. She was almost always sculpted in the nude and put in some alluring poses. Even nude sculptures uncovered from this time period were sometimes called Venuses. However, they could have been sculptures of nameless mortal women.

Worship of the Love Goddess

There were a few temples that were built to worship Venus’ many facets. One of her temples was named Venus Obsequens or “Venus the Doter.” The other temple was named Venus Genetrix or “Venus the Creator.

She had three festivals dedicated to her throughout the Roman year:

  • Veneralia: This festival took place on April 1 and was dedicated to the facet of Venus named Venus Verticordia or the “Venus Who Changes Hearts.” Women and men would ask Venus’ advice about relationships, and they would wash an image of her and cover it with myrtle
  • Vinalia Urbana: This is a wine festival that took place on April 23. She shared this festival with her grandson Jupiter, and it was the time for people to ask Venus to intercede for them. Prostitutes would gather at Venus’ temple during this festival
  • Vinalia Rustica: This festival took place on August 19 and was also a wine festival but serves as a celebration of harvest, growth, and fertility. A young female lamb would be sacrificed to the goddess

Other sacrifices that were given to Venus were goats, pigs, swans, doves, and sparrows. They would usually be crowned with myrtle, like the goddess.

Venus’ Legacy

While she is probably better known today as Aphrodite, Venus still lives on in the name of the second planet from the sun. It is the brightest (or most alluring) planet in our solar system. You can also find her name in multiple skincare and cosmetic products such as the Venus shaving brand.

Since she was the goddess of love and sex, and those are themes that fill our songs and our literature, her name is often used.

Conclusion

Venus the goddess of loveVenus was the loveliest of the goddesses in Roman mythology, and here is a sum-up of her story and her attributes:

  • Venus is the Roman goddess of love, beauty, passion, and sex
  • She is always shown as young and often nude in paintings and sculptures
  • Venus represents traditional femininity while her lovers represent traditional masculinity. She did, however, take both male and female lovers
  • Venus comes from a Latin word for erotic or passionate love, but her name might have also come from the word venenom, meaning “poison,” “charm,” or “aphrodisiac”
  • This goddess was so revered that Julius Caesar claimed that she was in his bloodline
  • Venus had a unique birth. Her mother was the sea and her father was Caelus
  • Saturn, after overthrowing his father, cut off his genitals and threw them into the sea, from whence Venus was born out of the foam
  • Some of her other names are Venus Felix, “Lucky Venus” and Venus Victrix, “Venus the Victorious”
  • She was married to Vulcan, but she had many lovers, the most famous ones being Mars, Mercury, and Adonis
  • Vulcan asked for her hand after he trapped his mother Juno in a chair and wouldn’t let her go until she gave him Venus
  • Their marriage was not happy, though, and didn’t have a child. Venus had her children with her many lovers
  • Her children include Cupid, Aeneas, Metus, Timor, the Graces, and Hermaphroditus
  • Mars is probably her most famous lover. Mercury caught them in bed one day and told Vulcan about their affair
  • Vulcan took his revenge, trapping them in the bed with a net, and he called the other gods to come look upon them and laugh at them
  • She also slept with Mercury, and their child, Hermaphroditus, merged his body with a female until they became one with both genitalia
  • Venus became victim to one of Cupid’s arrows and fell in love with Adonis, a beautiful mortal. They stayed together for a long time until Adonis was gored by a wild boar while on a hunt
  • Venus also helped her son Aeneas to get across the sea safely until they reached Italian shores. Aeneas was part of the founding of Rome
  • Cupid, one of her children, fell in love with a mortal, Psyche, and her beauty rivaled that of Venus. Venus was jealous so she tried to tear them apart, even torturing Psyche with difficult tasks, but they eventually were able to be together
  • Venus also had a battle for most beautiful with Juno and Minerva, but she won in the end
  • In arts, Venus is often shown nude and with her various symbols: rose, seashell, lambs, or myrtle. She was often painted by the sea or in a seashell, rising out of the foam
  • There were three festivals dedicated to Venus throughout the year: Veneralia, Vinalia Urbana, and Vinalia Rustica. The first two took place in April and the last one in August
  • She had a few temples: one of them was built for Venus Obsequens and the other for Venus Genetrix
  • The Romans would give Venus sacrifices such as lambs, goats, swans, doves, or sparrows
  • Her Greek equivalent, Aphrodite, might have been more well-known, but she is remembered as the second planet from the sun. It’s the brightest planet in the solar system
  • A famous skincare and cosmetics line also shares her name

It makes sense that the goddess of love and sex was alluring and soft. Yet, despite the traditionally feminine characteristics that she was bound to, she also had strong emotions. She was desolate at the loss of Adonis, jealous against Psyche for being almost as beautiful, and competitive when she fought for most beautiful against other goddesses.

She was not all sweetness and light, for she had a difficult marriage, a reputation to uphold, and power to protect: not unlike many human and mortal women. Perhaps she is more relatable after all.

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