Everyone loves a good story. Especially when it is one of love and tragedy. Great storytelling started from the epic poet Homer in Ancient Greece. He was blind and couldn’t write his stories down, but because they were so good, they were put into songs and carried down through the years. One of the many mythical characters he mentions in the Iliad is Goddess Aphrodite, or ‘Golden Aphrodite’ as he puts it. Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty, calls Cyprus her birthplace.
Go to any tourist gift shop and you are sure to see the famous image of the beautiful Goddess standing on a shell on the shore. This image represents the myth behind the birth of Aphrodite. According to the well-known myth, the Goddess was born from the sea foam in the area where Petra tou Romiou (Aphrodite’s Rock) is now located, and swam to shore. This area is located on the southwest coast of Pafos district and is identified by a giant rock formation which is linked with the myth of Digenis Akritas, a Byzantine hero who is said to have thrown the rocks there to protect the island by blocking the entrance to Saracens invaders.
The waters in this area are rough and tourists are advised not to swim in them, but be sure to dip your toes in the water at least, as myth also has it that anyone who swims around Aphrodite’s Rock will obtain eternal beauty and youth. Some say you have to swim around the rock three times at midnight, naked to stay forever young. Others say that if you swim around the rock you will obtain fertility.
The goddess loved to provoke the Gods to fall in love with mortal women, so we can thank her for a number of myths that have to do with the passions of the Gods – especially Zeus. Aphrodite’s most famous love affair was with Adonis, whose death devastated her. In traditional mythical style, there is also a great story to go with this incident. It is said that the flowering plant anemone sprouted from Aphrodite’s tears and from Adonis’ blood sprouted white roses.
Many women on the island worshiped the Goddess and asked for her to grant them the gift of pregnancy. Clay figurines have been found in tombs and settlements, that represent birth giving women, pointing to a tradition of worshiping Aphrodite in the hope of falling pregnant.
The legend of the great Goddess is also found in the Akamas Peninsula, where the Baths of Aphodite is located. These waters around the cave areas are said to be where Aphrodite took her baths.