Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Aphrodite, Kallipygos

Aphrodite was the Greek Goddess of beauty, sexuality, lust. The Romans knew her as Venus. Wikipedia notes that her feast day was known as the Aphrodisiac (also referred to as Aphrodisia), which was celebrated all over Greece but particularly in Athens and Corinth. In Corinth, intercourse with her priestesses was considered a method of worshipping Aphrodite. She was sometimes referred to as Aphrodite, Porne, meaning: Aphrodite, the Temple Prostitute, although, as noted above, temple prostitutes were priestesses who helped worshippers to find communion with Aphrodite, so the expression was one of sacredness.

She was also known as Aphrodite, Kallipygos, or Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks. It is in this form that I worship her, as she shows how healthy it can be for women to love their bodies and to enjoy themselves. There are several famous statues of Aphrodite, Kallipygos. Wikipedia tells this story to explain how she came to be worshipped:

"The people of those days were so attached to their sensual pleasures that they even went so far as to dedicate a temple to Aphrodite of the Beautiful Buttocks, for the following reason. One upon a time a farmer had two beautiful daughters. One day these girls, getting into a dispute as to which one had a more beautiful backside, went onto the public street. And by chance a young man was passing by, the son of a rich old man. They showed themselves to him, and when he saw them he voted in favor of the older girl. And in fact, falling in love with her, when he got back to town, he took to his bed and told his younger brother everything that had happened. And the younger brother also went to the country and saw the girls, and he fell in love with the other daughter. And so when the boys' father tried to get them to marry someone of the upper classes, he couldn't persuade his sons, and so he brought the girls in from the country, with their father's permission, and married them to his sons. And so these girls were called fair-buttocked by the citizens, as Cercidas of Megalopolis says in his Iambic Verses: "There was a pair of beautiful-buttocked girls in Syracuse." And so these girls, when they got wealthy and famous, founded a temple of Aphrodite and called the goddess the Fair-buttocked, as Archelaus tells us in his Iambic Verses."

The fact that there was a religious cult of Aphrodite Kallipygos at Syracuse is also mentioned by the Christian author Clement of Alexandria in a list of erotic manifestations of pagan religion. Clement cites the poet Nicander of Colophon, and generously quotes the alternative term (kalligloutos, "with a beautiful bottom") that Nicander used.

Hail Aphrodite, Kallipygos!

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