Whoosh! Issue 72 - September 2002

By By Ila Ottinger
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2002 held by Whoosh!
2510 words

Love, Love, Love (01)
A Mythological History Lesson (02-04)
Chill Out, It's Love, Baby (05-08)
Love By Any Other Name (09-11)
The Goddess and the Friend (12-14)
Cat and Mouse (15-16)
Love Hurts (17-18)


Love, Love, Love

[01] When you look at the arts -- music, painting, sculpture, poetry, plays, movies, and many books - you see that a majority of them have love as either the main or supporting theme. When you look at family and friendships, love is the glue that holds most of them together. With all this love affecting our lives, it is interesting to talk about Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

A Mythological History Lesson

[02] In Greek mythology, Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture. According to Hesiod [Note 1], she was born when Cronus, the son of Uranus (the father of the gods), castrated his father Uranus. Cronus threw the severed genitals into the ocean. The water began to churn and foam about them. From the aphros ('sea foam') arose Aphrodite, and the sea carried her to either Cyprus or Cythera. Hence, she is also referred to as Kypris and Cytherea.

[03] Zeus was afraid that the gods would fight over Aphrodite's hand in marriage so he married her off to the smith god Hephaestus, the steadiest of the gods. Hephaestus used his skills to make the most lavish girdle of finely wrought gold and wove magic into the filigree work. When she wore her magic girdle, no one could resist her. She was too irresistible already! She loved gaiety and glamour and was not at all pleased at being the wife of sooty, hard-working Hephaestus. Aphrodite loved and was loved by many gods and mortals.

[04] In Roman mythology, Venus is the goddess of love and beauty and Cupid is love's messenger.

Chill Out, It's Love, Baby

Put this around the neck of your graphics editor and you'll know where he is at all times -- like, duh, as if you need to know.

Aphrodite makes Joxer a hero in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS.

[05] When you look at the character Aphrodite, as portrayed on Xena: Warrior Princess, it is easy to be distracted from the essence of the character. It appears this was done on purpose, because the external characteristics are so strong. The first time I realized there was much more to the character than a valley girl dressed in a negligee was when I saw a conversation between Aphrodite and Cupid. They were talking about love. It was then that I realized I had missed half of what the character was about.

[06] In the episode, FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS, Cupid talks about what is important about love. Aphrodite sneers and starts talking about several of the forms of love, jealous love being one of the most powerful. The following quotes are from when you first see Aphrodite and Cupid in the episode they are arguing about the loss of Aphrodite's temples.

APHRODITE: That's way harsh, Cupid. I'm Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Temples are my kahunas the way I know whether I'm happening or not. Now, I want you to undo this thing.
CUPID: No way! They're eloping! It'll be over before you know it!
APHRODITE: Oh! This is so not fair! Ah. You're forcing me to get involved.
CUPID: I am not!
APHRODITE: Yes you are! I can whip up a major jealousy rage [referring to the bride's fiancÚ] in no time. All I need is an accomplice.
CUPID: You always do this! You're gonna find some hero, right? Like Theseus [Note 2] or Perseus [Note 3], throw your little lust-spell on 'em, then, pow! They're your boy-toys.
APHRODITE: As if, Cupid. I don't need a hero. I can do it with anyone.
This is where Joxer becomes the focus of Aphrodite's jealousy plan to break up the royal couple.

[07] Later, Cupid and Aphrodite are in the same room as the two kings (King Linius and King Baris) as they discuss their families' futures.

LINIUS: Perhaps, but I'm stopping all negotiations 'till we get to the bottom of this.
BARIS: No! I'm stopping all negotiations until I get to the bottom of this!
APHRODITE: [Laughs] "Lust versus love. You're just over your head, Sonny.
CUPID: How could you do that?! That's way not fair!
APHRODITE: All right! I suggest we continue this conversation when we've both mellowed. I'm outta here.

[08] If you think about it, some forms of love are quite negative. Here is an example of Cupid and Aphrodite talking later in the same episode, as they continue discussing love.

CUPID: That sucks. Well, you've done it, Mom. You've managed to mess up yet another one of my perfect matches. How can you call yourself the goddess of love?
APHRODITE: Oh, get a grip, Cupie! Love isn't just about happy endings. There's also jealous love, and unrequited love, and tragic love. And when you strip away all the tinsel, it's really just about hormones, isn't it? Don't frown, it'll give you lines.
This is where I first realized that Aphrodite was looking at the whole spectrum of love.

Love By Any Other Name

[09] Then I got thinking, of all the words in the English language, 'love' probably has more meanings than any other word. For an interesting exercise, I put together a list of words or phrases of love. This is what I came up with:

Eternal love
Agape (divine love)
Unconditional love
True love
Puppy love
Young love
Enjoyment (enjoy or joy)
Mother's love
Father's love
Love a sibling
Love of family
Love of country
Love of work
Love of doing which includes playing, singing, dancing, cooking, eating...
Unrequited love
(I would love to hear any others that you might come up with.)

[10] Later in the show, there is also a discussion between Aphrodite, Cupid, and Gabrielle about love. The quotes start with Gabrielle speaking to Aphrodite.

GABRIELLE: Now, I'm sure there's a reason why you're doing this. But it can't be worth breaking up Ileandra and Sarpedon. They're in love. That is what matters to you most, isn't it?
APHRODITE: Ah, gosh she sounds like you, Cupid.
GABRIELLE: Cupid, can you talk her out of this?
CUPID: What's your name, little girl?
GABRIELLE: Gabrielle.
CUPID: Gabrielle. Well, Gabrielle, when the goddess of love decides to do something petty and spiteful, she can be a tad difficult to reason with.
GABRIELLE: So you're going to let an innocent man die?
APHRODITE: Oh, come on! No one's really innocent. Well, maybe you. Besides, I can't break the spell. If I did, everyone would think I was pressured into it by some mortal. My goddess stock would plummet.

[11] You can tell that this dialog is before Aphrodite and Gabrielle became friends, so Aphrodite's current focus is on her godliness. Even so, you will notice that she is still including some comments about the true nature of humans. Are any of us innocent?

Cat and Mouse

[12] When you look at how Aphrodite is different from the other gods with mortals, it is striking. The other gods, except within the Ares-Xena relationship, treat mortals with disdain. Aphrodite occasionally will play with mortals as a cat will play with a mouse. She wants worship, but it is only because she believes she is so beautiful that she deserves it. The other gods require worship because they are gods and can make the life of mortal man miserable if not worshipped. Some of the gods appear to regard humanity as a plaything but most seem to consider humanity a bother. For me, that shows that they place very little value in the human race.

[13] So why would Aphrodite, a god who is smart and observant, who has a real interest in mortals and is an astute observer of human motivation and character, dress in a negligee and act like a valley girl? Could it be that smart, beautiful women are threatening to people? Is it easier to observe people when they do not know when they are being observed? Because she is a god, does acting this way make her look less threatening? I know that part of the act was to be funny, and I enjoyed the campy display.

[14] For whatever reason, Aphrodite appears to sincerely like humans. Maybe it is because she is linked to us by our most important emotion, love. Hate may force individuals to move and do when nothing else will, but love makes us create and become more than we thought possible. Hatred makes it easy to destroy. Any idiot can destroy. The harder more admirable thing is to build and create with love.

The Goddess and the Friend

And did I mention I charge by the hour, babe?

Aphrodite makes and effort to help her friend Gabrielle in PUNCH LINES.

[15] Aphrodite on multiple occasions with Gabrielle shows loyalty, friendship, and concern. For example, at the beginning of PUNCHLINES, Aphrodite takes the time to help Gabrielle with writer's block. This is not what you expect from a god but a friend. As often as she made fun of humans, you can tell that she admires Gabrielle. In some ways, Gabrielle is the idealized representation of our best and worst selves. In THE GOD YOU KNOW, Gabrielle returns the favor and helps Aphrodite when she is unable to help herself due to Caligula sapping her power. Both of these examples appear to me more like friendship than god/mortal interaction.

[16] While the other gods are fearful and trying to destroy Eve, Aphrodite is one of the few not to join the hunt/war. Perhaps she saw a possible way out for the gods if they had not hunted Eve. Maybe she was just fearful. Perhaps she saw that destroying Eve was not lasting solution.

Love Hurts

*knock* *knock*  Hey, is anyone HOME?!

Aphrodite tells her son 'Don't be stupid, Cupid!'

[17] Many episodes have 'Love is the way' as a theme. It is interesting to note that Aphrodite is one of the few characters to even mention the cost of love. The first episode I saw an example of this was also in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS

CUPID: That sucks. Well, you've done it, Mom. You've managed to mess up yet another one of my perfect matches. How can you call yourself the goddess of love?
APHRODITE: Oh, get a grip, Cupie! Love isn't just about happy endings. There's also jealous love, and-- unrequited love, and tragic love. And when you strip away all the tinsel, it's really just about hormones, isn't it? Don't frown, it'll give you lines.

[18] This is the first time that I am aware that Aphrodite refers to the pain or cost of love. Those who are newly in love might say that there is no cost. Those who have been in a long-term loving relationship might say there is a very large cost. Most will say it is worth it. It is ironic that the ones you love most can hurt you the most.


Note 1
Poetry attributed to Hesiod proclaims his birthplace as Ascra in Boeotia. There is no tangible evidence for a historical Hesiod, outside the poetry that presents him in the first person. Hesiod, along with Homer, typifies the earliest attested phases of Greek literature. Although the poetry attributed to him can be explained as the culmination of a lengthy earlier period of evolution in oral traditions, the Hesiodic poems were probably written down in the 8th century BCE. Hesiod's two known surviving poems are the Theogony and Works and Days. The Theogony (from theos 'god' and gone 'birth') records the birth of the gods and the establishment of the rule of Zeus. In Works and Days he speaks about justice and hard work, which is the only way to success, and he gives advice about agriculture, commerce, and navigation, as well as about marriage, bringing-up children, and other moral and useful precepts.
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Note 2
It was by lifting a boulder that Theseus, grandson of the king of Troezen, first proved himself a hero. His grandfather and his mother, Princess Aethra, had raised him. One day Princess Aethra called Theseus and said that it was time that he learned of his father, who was the ruler of a mighty kingdom. Theseus had been under the impression that his father was one of the gods. "Before I divulge his identity," said the princess, "You must meet the challenge your father has set you." Years ago, the king had hefted a mighty stone. Underneath he had placed something for his son to find - if he could lift the weight. Theseus proceeded to lift the stone easily. Beneath the stone, Theseus found certain tokens left by his father. Princess Aethra now revealed his father's name was King Aegeus of Athens. He determined to journey to Athens, however the route proved to be infested by an unusual number of villains, thugs, and thieves. Theseus quickly adopted the credo of doing unto these bad guys what they were in the habit of doing to others.
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Note 3
Perseus is the son of Zeus, the king of the Greek gods, and a mortal woman. The woman's husband, Polydectes, king of Seriphos, was naturally angry, but when your wife has an affair with a god, what can you do? When Perseus grew up, Polydectes sent him on what he believed was an impossible quest to kill Medusa, a Gorgon who was so ugly, anyone who looked at her would turn to stone. He was given a mirrored shield by Athena, the goddess of wisdom, and a pair of winged sandals by Hermes (also know as Mercury), the messenger of the gods. Perseus flew using the sandals to find Medusa. When he found her, he did not look at her. Instead, he used the reflection in the shield to guide his sword so he could behead her as she slept. As she died, the white winged horse Pegasus sprang from her neck. On his way back home, Perseus came across Princess Andromeda chained to a rock, waiting to be sacrificed to a sea monster. Perseus came on the scene just just in time, killed the sea monster, and saved the princess.
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Ila Ottinger, "Xena: Looking At the Six Years," Whoosh! #70 (07/02)


a woman of mystery I. Ottinger
I was raised on a small farm in Washington State. Graduated from college. Currently work in the satellite broadcast industry on the tech side. I am a single, old f-rt, with way too many opinions. Because I am a farm girl and a geek, I expect few readers to agree with my musings. I actually hope they do not. In our differences we have the opportunity to learn something new.

Favorite line: (If I have to choose, grump) Gabrielle: "Joxer it pains me to tell you that all day long I have fantasized about ripping your heart out!" TEN LITTLE WARLORDS
First episode seen: SINS OF THE PAST
Least favorite episode: GABRIELLE'S HOPE



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