Places of the Myth of Venus (Aphrodite) – Erice
Aphrodite on a chariot pulled on a chariot
In Greek mythology she is the goddess of love and her cult spread not only in Greece but also in the West, where she was identified with the Italian Venus. According to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, although, according to another narration, probably more ancient, Aphrodite was born from the blood leaking from the sexual organs of Uranus, which were cut by Cronos at the instigation of his mother Gaia. The blood, falling from the sky, mixed with the waves of the sea, thus generating Aphrodite the "woman born of the waves".
In the West the cult of Aphrodite spread more in Sicily, on the mountain Erice (today S. Giuliano), where, probably, there was a Punic sanctuary dedicated to the goddess Tanit.
Diodorus Siculus (lib IV.83) gives his version of the reason for the nickname “Ericina”: Erice was the son of Aphrodite and Buta, the local king of Sicily. He, in turn, became king, founded a city that took his name, placed it on a rock and, at the highest point, built a sanctuary dedicated to his mother. The goddess showed particular affection for the city of Erice and for this she was called Aphrodite Ericina.
An ancient ceremony links the cult of Venus Ericina to Carthage: once a year, traveling pigeons left the temple of Erice for Carthage, only to return after a few days, welcomed by the cheering population who considered them companions of the goddess who, invisible , he visited the African place and then returned to the temple. Emanuele Ciaceri affirmed that, in his time, at the end of the 800th century, it was still possible to observe doves that, annually, departed from Mount Erice to go to Libya and then return.
The abandonment of the cult of Aphrodite could be, in some way, related to the popular belief about the existence of ghost of Bellina in the territory of Monte Erice: according to this belief a woman, who initially appears from a window in the form of a beautiful girl, slowly turns into a snake. The Sicilian popular tradition could be placed in the same perspective according to which in Monte S. Giuliano, as Monte Erice is now called, there are the most beautiful women in Sicily; but if these come down from the mountain to settle elsewhere, they lose all their beauty.
Detailed information and bibliographic information on our page taken from the study of Ignazio Caloggero (Cults and Myths of Ancient Sicily):
Aphrodite - Venus
Places indicated in the IWB register of the Sicily Region (Places of Identity and Memory):
- Mirror of Venus (Pantelleria)
- Temple of Venus Ericina (Erice)
The reasons why the Pantelleria Lake known as the Mirror of Venus was included, where the landscape overlooking it, of undoubted beauty, is reflected on the water so much that it is called the Mirror of Venus.
Birth of Venus (Musée d'Orsay Paris -Bouguereau 1879)
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