Alumna de Historias. Curso 2007/2008 Mitología Clásica
Aphrodite's Baths - Los Baños de Afrodita en Chipre
Mapa de Chipre
One of the most famous sights in Cyprus is the baths of the Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite. Cyprus was her birthplace and her basic worship. For this the island was known as Aphrodite’s island. However, we are not sure if the Goddess gave her name to the island or she took her name from it. This question is based on the ancient texts that they call Aphrodite Κύπριδα or Κύπρις and of course we must have in mind that the Greek name of Cyprus is Κύπρος.
The picture shows the magnificent place of Aphrodite’s baths in Paphos where the Goddess was born based to the tradition as well as in the Greek and Latin texts that refer to the island as her birthplace and her basic worship. But it would be nice if we first talk about the myths that refer to her birth. There are two myths that are talking about this. The first myth is from Homer who says that Aphrodite was a daughter of Zeus and Dionne, a Goddess not so well known who was living in Olympus. The other myth is coming from the work of Hesiodos, Teogonia. Here, the historian says that the Goddess was born from Uranus’ cut genitals.
Chipre, la isla de Afrodita
Uranus was married with Gea. However, he was afraid of loosing his throne by his children. For this he decided to throw all of his children in Tartara. Gea was desperate and she decides to take revenge from his husband. She goes to Tartara and she asks from her sons to punish their father by cutting him his genitals with a cradle. Only the young Cronos was brave enough to do it. When the right time came he cut his father’s genitals and he threw them in the sea. At that time foam was created and from the foam rose a beautiful woman. That woman was Aphrodite, the daughter of Uranus. The coast that she was born is associated with her birth shore and it’s called Petra tu Romiu. After her birth the beautiful Goddess passed from Kythira and from there she landed to Cyprus where the Horai were waiting for her. From there she was taken to Olympus and she was welcomed from the other Gods who were astonished by her beauty. An Homeric Hymn says that Zephyrus was traveling her until Cyprus and from there she was taken to Olympus.
Anywise, the most popular myth about her birth is the one of Hesiodos. Besides her name means the one who was born from the foam of the sea, Αφροδίτη < αφρός. Based to her origin there are other names that Ancient Greek used to call her for example Κύπριδα or Κύπρις, Ουράνια or Ουρανίδα etc.
Baño de Afrodita en Pafos
Visiting Paphos we definitely visit the Aphrodite’s Baths, the place where the Goddess was taking her bath. A wonderful place full of green. From a big rock flows clean and cold water. The rock that covers the lake creates a cave creating a small palace beautiful and bright, the place where the goddess was spending her time.
Claudian (4th century B.C.) says that her husband Hephaestus fenced her little palace because of its isolated position. He also speaks about two sources of water. The one was joining with honey and the other one with poison. From these two sources Eros used to arm his arrows. Athenian (170-230 B.C) says that the Goddess was taking her bath there and then she was sleeping with her husband. He is also the first one who refers to the place with the name Baths of the Goddess of love. In his work he is referring to the plant Lyhnida (Λυχνίδα) which is growing only in Lemnos and to Aphrodite’s Baths.
The presence of the Goddess in the island is obvious in a lot of places. Homer is talking about a sanctuary dedicated to Aphrodite, archaeologists found many sanctuaries of her in Palepaphos, where she was most worshipped, and in Amathunta too. We must say that in Cyprus she was worshipped as a woman and as a man in the same time with the name Aphroditos (Αφρόδιτος). Isichius says that she was a Goddess with a female and male substance and Suidas adds she had female and male genitals and that above she was a man and below a woman. Aphroditos symbolized the power of the nature that can itself create a life. For this, in Cyprus the Goddess didn’t have a husband and in Paphos she was worshipped like a stone in a phallus shape. Makrobius and Servius are talking about a statue with male characteristics with female dress. Aristophanes as well calls the Goddess Aphroditon. Also there was a ‘holy prostitution’ where girls were sitting in the Goddess’ temple and strangers could pick one of them and sleep with them. In this way they were thinking that they fulfilled a holy duty.
Chipre, Baños de Adonis
The biggest love of Aphrodite was Adonis who is well known in the island as well. Not so far from the Aphrodite’s Baths we can find Adonis’ Baths. A verdurous place with waterfalls and wonderful plants. The myth says that Myrha was his mother and Kinyras his father, a king of Cyprus. Aphrodite punished her by making her fall in love with her father. When they both realized what happened Kinyras was chasing her in the woods to kill her. Then Aphrodite interfered and she turned her into a tree (Myrsina). From the bore jumped Adonis. Aphrodite astonished by his beauty took him and in a reliquary gave him to Persephone to take after him. When he grew up Aphrodite went to the underworld to take him but Persephone was in love with him and she denied returning him. Then a fight broke between the two Goddesses and then Zeus interfered for give a solution. Adonis was going to spend the three months of the year with Persephone and the rest with Aphrodite. Ares envied the love of Aphrodite and Adonis and for this he sent a wild boar which killed Adonis. The Goddess mourned so much for her lover and from her tears anemones grew and from his blood red roses. After his death Aphrodite asks Persephone to permit Adonis to come up to the earth. Persephone was agreed. From that time Adonis was spending six months with Persephone and the other six with Aphrodite.
Baños de Adonis
The tradition says that women who were born infertile and they wish to become pregnant swim in Adonis Baths and they will be able to have children.
In a hill near to Adonis Baths there is a big statue of Aphrodite which reveals her importance in the island, her power and her origin.
Estatuas de Adonis y Afrodita
Aphrodite’s Baths as well as Adonis’ Baths I think that are very important sight sees in Cyprus. They capture in a seductive environment all the glamour of Ancient Greek Mythology and they travel the visitors in an old era where Gods and Humans where so close to each other. Moreover they give to the visitors some moments of peace and an escape from the daily routine. They worth a visit!