The Latin Goddess Venus was originally a Goddess of the vine (Venus, Vino) and a protector of vineyards and gardens. She was adopted into the Roman pantheon as the local version of the Greek Goddess Aphrodite. Her original associations largely forgotten, most myths attributed to Venus that have survived today were originally Aphrodite’s though She also borrows aspects from the Etruscan deity Turan. However, Venus does retain Her own personality.
The name Venus derives from the Latin noun venus which refers to sexual desire itself or perhaps the noun comes from the name. This amazing little word is the root of many others, including venenum “poison” or “magic potion” and venom. venustās “loveliness”. Venery “sexual gratification”. Venerate “to hold with deep respect” from venerārī “to solicit the goodwill of a God”. And, not least, vine. Related words in different languages include the Sanskrit words vanas “to desire or wish for” veti and “to chase or follow after” as well as the Old English word waþ, the Norse veiðr and the Lithuanial veju, which all relate to hunting.
The variety of words stemming from Venus provides us with just a small clue to her complicated personality.
Venus and the Roman State
Venus and Mars were exceptionally important tutelary Gods of the Roman state, both considered divine ancestors of the Roman people. According to Roman lore, Aphrodite, and by extension Venus, was the mother of Aeneas, a warrior from Troy who fled to Italy after its destruction. Aeneas was the great-great-great…. grandfather of Remus and Romulus, the legendary founders of Rome. Julius Ceasar also claimed to be descended from Venus.
Venus, Women, and Femininity
Venus symbolizes the feminine principle of the universe and is the patron of all women. In ancient Rome, girls offered their toys to Venus to mark their entrance into womanhood and brides made offerings to Venus in preparation for their nuptials. She was the patron of prostitutes and also guarded the sacred laws surrounding sexuality and punished those who committed sexual crimes such as rape and incest, guarded the vows of the Vestal Virgins and guided sex addicts gently back to normality. She helped to ensure female fertility as well as the fertility of the land. Marital success and seduction lay within her realm of influence and so did the success of the state; victory in battle and general good fortune.
Lovers and Family
Venus’s myths are pretty much the same as those of Aphrodite. Before the two were equated, the Latin people don’t seem to have been as interested in having stories about their Gods. That being said, her father was Jupiter, or perhaps she rose spontaneously from the sea foam after he emasculated his own father Cronus.
Her divine consorts were Vulcan and Mars and her mortal loves included Anchises and Adonis. Her sons are Cupid and Anteres
Epithets of Venus
Symbols of Venus
herbs sacred to Venus: rose and myrtle
foods sacred to Venus: wine, especially tinctured with myrtle oil
The Venus symbol, also known as The Mirror of Venus.
Festivals for Venus
Veneralia April 1st
Vinalia Urbana April 23rd
Vinalia Rustica August 19th
Venus in the Vernacular
The name Venus is attributed in modern usage to just about any female statue that is Goddess-like in appearance. It is important to note that many of these do not depict Venus. The Venus de Milo is most likely Aphrodite and the Venus of Willendorf, if she is a Goddess at all, has not been identified. She is certainly not Venus, though she may be an ancestor.