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Graf suggests that Aphrodite’s Eastern provenance cannot alone account for the fact that an armed Aphrodite has been preserved for centuries at Sparta. 37 Beyond our literary sources there is iconographical and epigraphical evidence to endorse the idea that Aphrodite kept her affinity to war and weapons as an inheritance from her Eastern predecessor in certain places in Greece, particularly in those regions which were under a strong Eastern influence. The actively performed rituals suggest that an armed Aphrodite is not just an imitation of an iconographical feature, but part of cult.

The dedications of the magistrates help to explain how the specific role of Aphrodite ΠάνδημοϚ was realized in actual political life. We have already seen that it is this special relationship with Theseus, the founder of democratic Athens that makes Aphrodite an eminent political goddess. Thus it is not surprising that she is venerated by Athenian magistrates, in subsequent periods and especially at times when Athens is in danger. 108 I suggest that this civic or political harmony can be considered an extension of the private harmony Aphrodite brings to lovers.

80 This widespread cult epithet indicates a specifically Greek political interpretation of an aspect of Aphrodite’s traditional sphere of influence. It is significant that neither the cults nor any myths related to them have been mentioned in any of our literary sources from the 5th century BC—possibly because this “political myth” was not considered as particularly attractive for literary elaboration. Plato’s distinction of two Aphrodites in the Symposium (180c1-185c3) reflects these institutions of Aphrodite’s worship on the Acropolis.

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Aphrodite and Eros The Development of Erotic Mythology in Early Greek Poetry and Cult by BREITENGERGER, B.

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