Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful Aphrodite I shall sing
to whose domain belong the battlements of Cyprus
where, blown by the moist breath of Zephyros,
she was carried over the waves of the resounding sea.
This ode to Aphrodite is from a Mycenean creation story. I find that this story answers many questions about human history not discussed in a discourse on Adam and Eve. Questions such as, if a man speaks, and there is no woman to hear him, is he still wrong? Let me explain.
In the beginning, the gods of Mount Olympus grew tired of playing tricks on each other. They decided to create an external form of entertainment. Being gods, you think they could have conceived of HBO, court jesters, or if they were really bored, professional baseball. The gods decided to create a race of men from the soil of the flat terrain beneath their domain. They placed these men on the island of Cyprus so they couldn’t just wander off. Then they watched.
Alas, the men did not entertain. They worked well together! Some made wine, others gathered food. They built small houses for everyone on the island. Their essential needs easily met, they created sports, bathes, and allowed each other to finish their own sentences.
According to the Mycenean philosophers, who were all male, this was indeed paradise. One toga, one pair of sandals. That’s the entire wardrobe! Other guys could show up at parties in the same outfit and still be friends. They could sit in silence for hours without wondering whether other men were mad at them. When they finished washing up, they could wipe their hands on their toga, without having to look around first.
The Olympus gods tired of this trite island of men. So, hatched a devious plan.
The following morning, men gathered on the Cyprus shores witnessed the arrival of a beautiful woman, carried by a seashell on the waves to the beach, where she stepped off, clad only in the locks of her long hair. Their mouths dropped open, a natural reaction not yet deemed impolite. The creation story does not detail what happened next. Thanks to modern research, and a unique imagination, I am able to fill in a few details.
The men had questions, as all men do. Where did you come from? She pointed to the sky. Why are you here? She didn’t know. We all know the most important question going through the minds of each of the men. “I wonder if she has a problem I can solve!” Why yes, yes she did.
Aphrodite is one of the few women in history to accurately use the statement “I don’t have a thing to wear!” Togas didn’t work for her figure. She wanted a tunic, several in fact, in varying lengths and colors, with matching accessories. Not out of the same material as men’s togas either. This established the fashion industry.
Aphrodite wanted a home. Many men offered their modest abodes, but she wanted her own place. Not just any place mind you! The men, who worshiped the ground she walked on, built her a home that today we might call a temple. She insisted they build it on a hilltop with a view of the sky where she came from and the sea that carried her to her beloved island. In this temple she accepted visitors, and gifts, offering her wisdom, or opinion, in return.
The first religious rule? Towels! Aphrodite insisted on towels. She would not wipe her hands on her tunics. She also desired soap, something to clean her skin, a concept completely foreign to the men. The first soap was made in the shape of the shell that carried Aphrodite to Cyprus. She insisted that she would visit someone in their home only if they included towels and soap for her as their guest, a demand still practiced by many women today.
Aphrodite became the wealthiest person on Cyprus. Her temple needed a money manager, and someone to run her schedule. Her hilltop grounds required flowers, plants, and a shrubbery, one that looked nice, and not too expensive.
The temple employed many of the men on the island. While it might sound enticing, most men did not want to work there because of the strict employment policies against flirting, dating or consorting with Aphrodite. Fortunately, about 5% of the men did not seem to mind these policies. They also proved better at selecting her wardrobe, tending the flowers and styling her hair.
One temple visitor used the towels and soap, thinking this would please Aphrodite. She was not amused. The guest towels and soaps were for guests, which did not include the meager men of Cyprus. Who, then, were they for? Nobody knew.
Confused men gathered every evening, after the temple closed, to drink wine and help each other understand the one women in their midst. Alas, the men could not. One man bragged about his special relationship with Aphrodite, which incited jealousy in another and they came to blows.
This drama pleased the gods. Pleased them so much that they decided to create other races of men and gradually add other women. Women such as Pandora, but that is a story for another time.
Greek mythology can help us understand ourselves and each other. John Grey produced several best-selling books and an internationally recognized counseling career using Greek mythology archetypes. I enjoyed his most popular book, although I think the title needs tweaking. The way I understand the story of Aphrodite, men are from Earth, and women are space aliens.