Some strange Myths about Aphrodite
The most common version of the birth of Aphrodite describes her born in sea-foam from the castrated genitals of the sky-god Ouranos.
Hesiod, Theogony 176 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
“Ouranos (the Sky) came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Gaia (the Earth) spreading himself full upon her. Then the son [Kronos] from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father’s members and cast them away to fall behind him . . . and so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Kythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Kypros, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and Aphrogeneia (the foam-born) because she grew amid the foam, and well-crowned (eustephanos) Kythereia because she reached Kythera, and Kyprogenes because she was born in billowy Kypros, and Philommedes (Genital-Loving) because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros (Love), and comely Himeros (Desire) followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honour she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods,–the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness.”
Homeric Hymn 6 to Aphrodite (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th to 4th B.C.) :
“To Sea-set Kypros the moist breath of the western wind (Zephryos) wafted her [Aphrodite] over the waves of the loud-moaning sea in soft foam, and there the gold-filleted Horai (Seasons) welcomed her joyously. They clothed her with heavenly garments: on her head they put a fine, well-wrought crown of gold, and in her pierced ears they hung ornaments of orichalc and precious gold, and adorned her with golden necklaces over her soft neck and snow-white breasts, jewels which the gold-filleted Horai wear themselves whenever they go to their father’s house to join the lovely dances of the gods. And when they had fully decked her, they brought her to the gods, who welcomed her when they saw her, giving her their hands. Each one of them prayed that he might lead her home to be his wedded wife, so greatly were they amazed at the beauty of violet-crowned Kythereia.”
The Anacreontea, Fragment 57 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (C5th B.C.) :
“[Aphrodite] roaming over the waves like sea-lettuce, moving her soft-skinned body in her voyage over the white calm sea, she pulls the breakers along her path. Above her rosy breast and below her soft neck a great wave divides her skin. In the midst of the furrow, like a lily wound among violets, Kypris shines out from the clam sea. Over the silver on dancing dolphins ride guileful Eros and laughing Himeros (Desire), and the chorus of bow-backed fish plunging in the waves sports with Paphia where she swims.”
Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 5. 55. 4 (trans. Oldfather) (Greek historian C1st B.C.) :
“Aphrodite, they say, as she was journeying [after her birth in the sea] from Kytherea to Kypros and dropped anchor near Rhodes, was prevented from stopping there by the sons of Poseidon, who were arrogant and insolent men; whereupon the goddess, in her wrath, brought a madness upon them.”
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 41. 20 ff :
“Before Kypros and the Isthmian city of Korinthos, she [i.e. the city of Beroe or Beruit in Phoinikia] first received Kypris [Aphrodite] within her welcoming portal, newly born from the brine; when the water impregnated from the furrow of Ouranos was delivered of deepsea Aphrodite; when without marriage, the seed plowed the flood with male fertility, and of itself shaped the foam into a daughter, and Phusis (Nature) was the midwife–coming up with the goddess there was that embroidered strap which ran round her loins like a belt, set about the queen’s body in a girdle of itself . . . Beroe first received Kypris; and above the neighbouring roads, the meadows of themselves put out plants of grass and flowers on all sides; in the sandy bay the beach became ruddy with clumps of roses . . .
There, as soon as she was seen on the neighbouring harbourage, she brought forth wild Eros (Love) . . . without a nurse, and [Eros] beat on the closed womb of his unwedded mother; then a hot one even before birth, he shook his light wings and with a tumbling push opened the gates of birth.” [N.B. In this passage Aphrodite is born pregnant with Eros who she births on the day of her own birth.]