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Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, demands a lot of love. A LOT. And when she doesn’t get it, she gets angry and doles out rather insane punishments.
Hippomenes – This prince prayed for Aphrodite’s help a race but didn’t pay her proper tribute for his win. As punishment, Aphrodite caused Hippomenes and his wife to be overcome with lust, leading them to have sex in the temple of the goddess Cybele. Cybele was not amused by the encroaching lust and turned the two into lions.
Hippolytus – The son of Theseus scorned Aphrodite in favor of Artemis, swearing to live a life devoted to chastity and hunting and other stuff Aphrodite definitely doesn’t approve of. The goddess, in turn, made his stepmother Phaedra fall in love with and subsequently kill herself over Hippolytus. Hippolytus was banished by his father as punishment and ended up being attacked and killed by a monster.
Brothers of Halia – Aphrodite, a wee (fully-grown) babe, freshly born out of the sea, tried to land on the brothers’ island, and was turned away. Aphrodite punished the brothers by driving them mad with lust, causing them to do many, many vile acts, including raping their own mother (who was the one who insisted they turn Aphrodite away in the first place).
The Women of Lemnos – The women scorned Aphrodite, and she, in turn, made them smell really bad. Does that seem like an unusually rational and proportionate response? Well, due to their new stench, the women’s husbands abandoned them in favor of new Thracian brides. The Lemnian women were so outraged that they killed all the men.
Nerites – This sea god was another one of Aphrodite’s gods on the side. They spent time together (wink, wink) in the sea, but when Aphrodite invited Nerites up to Olympus, he refused. So she turned him into a shellfish.
Menelaos – This is maybe Aphrodite’s most famous revenge– the revenge that launched a thousand ships. The king asked for the Goddess’ help in a contest and promised to sacrifice 100 cattle at a tribute. After his win, though, Menelaos forgot about the cows. Aphrodite caused Menelaos’ wife Helen to elope with Paris to Troy.
The Propoetides – The daughters of Propoetus had the gall to deny Aphrodite’s divinity. So she filled them with lust to the point of turning them into prostitutes. Their hearts turned hard, and eventually their bodies did as well. Yup, Aphrodite turned a group of women into prostitutes and then she turned them stone, all for suggesting she may not actually be a goddess.
Pan – The god of shepherds was the judge in a beauty contest between Aphrodite and a young man named Akhilleus (no relation to Achilles). Pan, foolish god that he is, chose Akhilleus, and Aphrodite cursed him with unrequited love for Echo. Of course, Akhilleus was so angered by Echo’s lack of affection that he caused her to be torn to pieces and strewn about the earth. Pan was probably upset, but that seems like a worse punishment for Echo, doesn’t it?
Akhilleus – For his pride is asking for that beauty contest in the first place, Aphrodite turned the youth into a shark. An ugly shark.
Eos – Aphrodite may have been force-married to Hephaestus, but she had a number of lovers, including the god Ares. Ares had an affair with the goddess Eos, and Aphrodite punished her with an unquenchable lust for young men.
Hercules – Another one of Aphrodite’s lovers (a mortal one this time), Adonis, was seduced by the Greek hero. As retaliation, Aphrodite had Hercules’ wife soak a robe in poisoned blood and give it to her husband as a gift. (Romantic, no?)