“Aphrodite simply charmed her way back again into her husband’s good graces, no great feat for her”

Vulcan and Venus marriage story ‘Of all the goddesses of Olympos only Aphrodite did no work. She was good for one thing and for one thing only: love. And for that she was very, very good. Hers was the magic girdle [Cestus] that could inspire uncontrollable passion in the most solid and respectable. Zeus was ever at its mercy. It could provoke, some claim, lustful fantasies in even the mutilated Ouranos himself. There was no need for the girdle, however, when she wished to be the object of passion herself. No goddess was more enchantingly lovely, more perfectly made.

Her marriage to the smith-god Hephaistos took place in heaven but grave doubts soon arose as to whether it was made there; for before long she made war-loving Ares her lover. Afternoons when Hephaistos labored over his forge, Aphrodite would furtively unlatch their doors to Hephaistos’s palatial bedroom and the wondrously wrought four-poster he had fashioned with his own hands. There they would sport themselves in sensual diversions unknown to husband, reserved for lover alone.

The afternoon trysts did not, however, go unobserved. Helios, God of the Sun, looked down from high above Mount Olympos at the shameless comings and goings; and when unable to contain his indignation for Hephaistos’s sake any longer, he went to the Smith God and revealed all.

Angry, spirits crushed, Hephaistos shuffled back to his smithy and set his great anvil on the anvil block. Nor did he leave the anvil until he had hammered chains unbreakable and finely wrought and had joined the chains together into a most subtle mesh. Still bristling with anger, he went to his own bedroom and spread the mesh over the posts of his magnificent bed just under the canopy. It hung there, like a thinly spun spider’s web, invisible to the naked eye.

Then to shapely Aphrodite he went. “I must betake myself to Lemnos, of all islands to me most precious,” he told her. “Can you manage a few days without me?”

Sweetly she bid him good-bye, and off he hobbled as if to his beloved island.

…Throwing wide the bedroom doors, the simple Smith God roared in his anger. Neither Ares nor Aphrodite could move from the bed; prisoners they were in a showcase cell. Hephaistos went to the balcony and, in loud voice both pained and triumphant, called out to Zeus and the other gods to witness his wife’s disgrace.

…Out of modesty the goddesses all declined the lame god’s invitation, but earth-shaking Poseidon came with quickened pace and so also did Hermes, bringer of luck., and the glorious Apollo. As the stood in the doorway, the two younger gods broke forth with inextinguishable laughter. “I thought Ares was the fastest god on Olympos,” said Hermes. “He must not be. A cripple caught up with him.”

“Oh, to be in bed with her! Who would worry about the chains,” the Far-shooter remarked, pressing his face against the transparent mesh to get a better look.

…All this time Poseidon, whose eyes had not left the shapely Aphrodite since the moment he entered the room, bore a serious aspect. He did not mask his irritation over the lightheartedness of the other gods. “This is truly outrageous,” he said to Hephaistos. “Let him go. He’ll pay you for this. I’ll see to it myself.”

“No,” said the Smith God. “Form a villain I expect only more villainy. If I free him, what surety do I have? He’ll leave his debts behind with his chains.”

“If he does that, I’ll take his place,” promised Poseidon, his eyes still fixed on the lovely goddess.

Hephaistos pondered the proposition while Apollo and Hermes doubled up with new laughter. At length, however, the lame smith relented and loosed the mesh from his violated marriage bed and its prisoners. Off fled Ares immediately to Thrace, one of the few places he was welcome.

Laughter-loving Aphrodite betook herself to Cypros, her favorite island, where the Graces bathed her in her virginity-restoring bath and rubbed oil of ambrosia into her unflawed skin. When she returned to her husband, she radiated the innocence and sweetness of an untouched bride. Zeus did not return the dowry, nor did war-loving Ares or the earthshaker Poseidon come up with so much as a bronze ring in compensation for Hephaistos’s humiliation. Aphrodite simply charmed her way back again into her husband’s good graces, no great feat for her; and then, when all was returned to normal, again she played him false and again and again and again.’ –Great Zeus and All His Children by Donald Richardson

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The gods send their love.

Emily Wilson’s translation of Aphrodite’s affair & Hephaestus’s snare – The Odyssey, Book 4, lines 265-367:

‘The poet strummed and sang a charming song

about the love of fair-crowned Aphrodite

for Ares, who gave lavish gifts to herHephaestus catching Aphrodite and Ares in their affair; circo del herrero imagery for the poem

and shamed the bed of Lord Hephaestus, where

they secretly had sex. The Sun God saw them,

and told Hephaestus–bitter news for him.

He marched into his forge to get revenge,

and set the might anvil on its block,

and hammered chains so strong that they could never

be broken or undone. He was so angry

at Ares. When his trap was made, he went

inside the room of his beloved bed,

and twined the mass of cables all around

the bedposts, and then hung them from the ceiling,

like slender spiderwebs, so finely made

that nobody could see them, even gods:

the craftsmanship was so ingenious.

When he had set the trap across the bed,

he traveled to the cultured town of Lemnos,

which was his favorite place in all the world.

Ares the golden rider had kept watch.

He saw Hephaestus, famous wonder-worker,

leaving his house, and went inside himself;

he wanted to make love with Aphrodite.

She had returned from visiting her father,

the mighty son of Cronus; there she sat.

Then Ares took her hand and said to her,

 

“My darling, let us go to bed. Hephaestus

is out of town; he must have gone to Lemnos

to see the Sintians whose speech is strange.”

 

She was exited to lie down with him;

they went to bed together. But the chains

ingenious Hephaestus had created

wrapped tight around them, so they could not move

or get up. Then they knew that they were trapped.

The limping god drew near–before he reached

the land of Lemnos, he had turned back home.

Troubled at heart, he came towards his house.

Standing there in the doorway, he was seized

by savage rage. He gave a mighty shout,

calling to all the gods,

 

“O Father Zeus,

and all you blessed gods who live forever,

look! You may laugh, but it is hard to bear.

See how my Aphrodite, child of Zeus,

is disrespecting me for being lame.

She loves destructive Ares, who is strong

and handsome. I am weak. I blame my parents.

If only I had not been born! But come,

see where those two are sleeping in my bed,

as lovers. I am horrified to see it.

But I predict they will not want to lie

longer like that, however great their love.

Soon they will want to wake up, but my rap

and chains will hold them fast, until her father

pays back the price I gave him for his daughter.

Her eyes stare at me like a dog. She is

so beautiful, but lacking self-control.”

 

The gods assembled at his house: Poseidon,

Earth-Shaker, helpful Hermes, and Apollo.

The goddesses stayed home, from modesty.

The blessed gods who give good things were standing

inside the doorway, and they burst out laughing,

at what a clever trap Hephaestus set.

And as they looked, they said to one another,

“Crime does not pay! The slow can beat the quick,

as no Hephaestus, who is lame and slow,

has used his skill to catch the fastest sprinter

of all those on Olympus. Ares owes

the price for his adultery.” They gossiped.

 

Apollo, son of Zeus, then said to Hermes,

“Hermes my brother, would you like to sleep

with golden Aphrodite, in her bed,

even weighed down by might chains?”

 

And Hermes

the sharp-eyed messenger replied, “Ah, brother,

Apollo lord of archery: if only!

I would be bound three times as tight or more

and let you gods and all your wives look on,

if only I could sleep with Aphrodite.”

 

Then laughter rose among the deathless gods.

Only Poseidon did not laugh. He begged

and pleaded with Hephaestus to release

Ares. He told the wonder-working god,

 

“No let him go! I promise he will pay

the penalty in full among the gods,

just as you ask.”

 

The famous liming god

replied, “Poseidon, do not ask me this.

It is disgusting, bailing scoundrels out.

How could I bind you, while the gods look on,

if Ares should escape his bond and debts?”

 

Poseidon, Lord of Earthquakes, answered him,

“Hephaestus, if he tried to dodge this debt,

I promise I will pay.”

 

The limping god

said, “Then, in courtesy to you, I must

do as you ask.” So using all his strength,

Hephaestus loosed the chains. The pair of lovers

were free from their constraints, and both jumped up.

Ares went off to Thrace, while Aphrodite

smiled as she went to Cyprus, to the island

of Paphos, where she had a fragrant altar

and sanctuary. The Graces washed her there,

and rubbed her with the magic oil that glows

upon immortals, and they dressed her up

in gorgeous clothes. She looked astonishing.’

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