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The Myth of Ares and Aphrodite

Posted: Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:35 pm
by Windwalker
This is one of my favourite myths, because it makes me laugh. This version is told in Homer's Odyssey. I'm not quite sure why I decided to post it now, but here it is, in the verse I found it in.

Sounding his lyre, the singer began his beautiful song,
a tale of the dalliance of Ares and fair-crowned Aphrodite,
how they embraced in secret in the very house of Hephaestos.
Loading the goddess with gifts, Ares sullied the nuptial bed
of the lord Hephaestos, to whom Helios carried the story,
that he himself had seen the couple embracing in passion.
Hephaestos listened in silence to the news that broke his heart,
then hurried into his workshop, contriving a fit retribution.
Firm on a solid base he set a ponderous anvil and forged
a chain that could not be broken, escaped, or even unfastened.
At last he finished his trap, and, seething in anger at Ares,
carried it up to the chamber housing the couch of love.
Around the bed-posts he draped his chain in voluptuous swirls,
coiled directly over the bed, looping down from the rafters.
Yet it was fine as a cobweb, not to be noticed by watchers,
even the blessed gods, such skill went into its making.
Finally, when his trap was arranged all over the bedstead,
he pretended important business in Lemnos, that well-managed city,
“dearest by far,” said he, “of all the cities of men.”
Now Ares, golden-reined, had kept his eye on Hephaestos.
Learning the god of craftsmen would be gone an indefinite period,
he wasted no time, but ran at once to the home of Hephaestos,
panting with lust to possess the beautiful-crowned Cytherea.
She had just said goodbye to her father, the mighty son of great Cronus,
and was sitting there by herself. Ares scratched at the door,
squeezed her hand, and murmured tender endearments of love:
“Sweetheart, off we go, to snuggle down in the blankets.
Your husband? He’s gone off; by now he must be in Lemnos,
amusing himself with Sintian women, with voices like crows.”
Aphrodite agreed: bed seemed to offer amusement;
up the pair went to slumber together. Down came the chain,
tightly embracing the two, as wily Hephaestos had planned it.
Neither could move an inch and neither could lift up a finger.
They knew at once they had no possible way of escaping.
The famous lame craftsman, meanwhile, had turned back to his house,
before he got to Lemnos, warned by Helios, his trusty informant;
savage with rage he approached, but checked himself in the doorway,
then yelled at the top of his voice to summon all the immortals:
“Here, father Zeus and you other blessed immortal gods,
if you really want to guffaw at something shameful to see.
Aphrodite, daughter of Zeus, is always mocking my lameness,
billing and cooing with Ares, her muscular pretty-boy vandal.
So, I was born with a limp. Nobody can blame me for that;
charge the fault to my parents, who didn’t have to beget me!
Just look here at the lovebirds, snuggled so sweetly together –
and in my bed, if you please. You wonder why I resent it?
Well, somehow I don’t imagine they want to stay any longer;
however fond they may be, they’d rather have separate beds.
But this little gadget will chain them fast in loving embrace,
till Daddy repays every penny I gave for the lecherous slut.
Sure, his daughter is pretty, but empty of sense or of morals.”
At this the gods rushed up and clustered around his door –
Poseidon, embracer of earth; Hermes the helper of mortals;
and the lord Apollo, who hurls his flying darts from afar.
(The feminine goddesses stayed at home for modesty’s sake,
while the gods, the givers of blessings, gaped at the pair through the door.)
Unceasing bawdy laughter broke out from the blessed gods,
eyeing the clever device contrived by inventive Hephaestos.
Each slapped another’s back as he flung him a salty jest:
“Crime never pays?” they asked. “The slow outrunning the swift?
why not, if limping Hephaestos can catch the swift-footed Ares,
nimblest of all the gods who hold domain on Olympus?”
“What if his legs are lame? his brain is certainly working.”
So they were joking together, and Apollo, son of Zeus,
questioned Lord Hermes thus: “O Hermes, giver of blessings,
even if you were shackled with inescapable fetters,
wouldn’t you like to recline with Aphrodite the golden?”
Hermes the guide, the slayer of Argus, promptly retorted:
“O, what wouldn’t I give for that, far-shooting Apollo!
I’d gladly be bound by thrice as many unbreakable chains,
while all you gods looked on – yes, and the goddesses too –
as long as I might lie there with Aphrodite the golden!”
At this reply the immortals burst into hootings of laughter:
but Poseidon, unamused, kept begging the famous inventor
to let poor Ares go. His words went straight to the point:
“Loose him. I promise to pay whatever you may demand,
whatever is found satisfactory among the immortal gods.”
The famous smith, who is crippled in both his legs, gave this answer:
“Poseidon, embracer of earth, please don’t ask this of me.
Promises made by the worthless are so much worthless wind.
What can I claim from you before the immortals’ assembly,
if once this Ares escapes, eluding me and my bonds?”
Poseidon, shaker of earth, unhappily gave this reply:
“Hephaestos, if Ares attempts to escape by jumping his bail,
I promise to make up his bond, repaying all that he owes.”
The crippled smith replied to Poseidon in these words:
“I cannot refuse your offer; to do so would be impolite.”
So mighty Hephaestos unfastened the chain, and the lovers,
once set free from its links, slender but terribly strong,
jumped up in silence and parted, Ares to warlike Thrace,
Aphrodite, lover of smiles, to her shrine in Cyprian Paphos,
with gardens all around the temple and a fragrant altar within.
The Graces washed and anointed her flesh with ambrosial oil,
of the sort laid up for immortals, and clothed the goddess
in robes of the loveliest sort, a wonder to see.

- Homer, The Odyssey

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 6:00 pm
by Mahala
Long, but very worthwhile.

Posted: Tue Mar 27, 2007 11:58 pm
by SageWolf
And the lesson to be learned is well there are a couple of em, but the main one is this, never underestimate a man who is not at full capasity, he may not be able to use his body but his mind is quick.

THe other is leave the mans wife alone.

SageWolf

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 4:12 am
by Windwalker
SageWolf wrote:THe other is leave the mans wife alone.
Probably not Ares's best move, but Aphrodite's marriage to Hephaestos was never what you'd call a happy one. And if she comes seducing you, would you say no? ;)

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 7:05 am
by Crazy Healer Lady
That is one of my favourites as well! thanks for posting!

Posted: Wed Mar 28, 2007 9:51 am
by Kitsune
I see that rule a different way, saying more...

"Do what pleasures you, so long as the majority agrees." :roll:

I mean, after all, what's a little embarresment compared to the wonders of Aphrodite. :lol:

Hell, that woman could probally seduce me, and I have almost no interest in Women. =P~