The Roman goddess of love, fertility and beauty.

Venus was originally a goddess of the field, probably of Latin or Etruscan origin. Around the 3rd century BC, she became associated with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love.

Venus' descent and descendants

There are two possibilities as to her descent. Either she was the daughter of Jupiter and Dione, or she was made from the sea-foam on Saturn's castrated testes. Most Romans and Greeks seem to have favoured the former story, although the latter sounds much cooler.

Being the goddess of love, Venus had no shortage of lovers. She was the wife of Vulcan, but frequent lover of Mars. She also took two mortal lovers: Adonis and Anchises, to whom she bore Aeneas. She also had another son: Cupid, whose father is not known. All this despite the fact that she was the goddess of chastity in women!

Her place in Roman religion

The Romans revered Venus as the mother of their race, presumably because she was the mother of Aeneas. They had three names for her: Venus Genetrix, the mother of the Roman people; Venus Victrix, the bringer of victory; and Venus Verticordia, protector of chastity.

Most of Venus' myths are merely Roman borrowings of Greek myths concerning Aphrodite. However, Venus being associated with the coming of spring and with chastity are Roman ideas.

Festivals and Art dedicated to Venus

Venus had two festivals: the Veneralia on April 1 and another, smaller festival on August 19. The month of April takes its name from Aphrodite, and is thus connected with Venus. Venus is also associated with Friday, something we are reminded of by the French word for the day, 'Vendredi.'

There are many representations of Venus in art. The most famous are the Venus de Milo, Venus de Medici, Venus de Capua and the Capitoline Venus. In poetry, she is immortalised in the Pervigilium Veneris and as a character in Vergil's Aeneid