All About History

How to build a Goddess

The names Venus and Aphrodite are synonymous with love, and have been for centuries. Myths are still told today of the goddess’s many lovers and of her adventures in antiquity. But beyond the tales of sex and depravity, underneath the marble statues and grand temples, lies a history of the deity that seems to have been forgotten.

The many faces of Venus-Aphrodite are finally coming to the forefront in a new book by award-winning historian and writer Bettany Hughes. The goddess’s fascinating past in the Middle East, North Africa and even Britain is uncovered in

Venus And Aphrodite, so we’ve sat down to talk with Bettany about how the Greeks and Romans venerated her, what happened to her in the Christian world, how 20th century suffragettes felt about her image, and more besides.

Why did you choose to look into Venus-Aphrodite, and why did you decide to publish this book now?

It’s something that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. When I was writing about Helen of Troy, I noticed that actually, although later Helen gets the blame in the Greek world, really it’s Aphrodite who is responsible for the Trojan War as she tempted Paris to fall in love with Helen and then tempted Helen to run away with Paris. I’ve always been interested in Aphrodite as an active agent as a goddess, and so I’ve been gathering material since then.

For a few years now it has felt like the right time to bring out the book – firstly because there’s a lot of new archaeological

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