Venus and Aphrodite: A Biography of Desire by Bettany Hughes is a short biography of Venus/Aphrodite and explains how the perception of the goddess has shifted through time.
It is a very quick and easy read, always accessible, and never dry. The author seems to be very knowledgable and passionate about the topic. I really enjoyed her writing style, at times it felt like she was telling Aphrodite’s story to a good friend over a nice cup of coffee.
There is no background knowledge of Greek/Roman mythology needed in order to understand the book, the author keeps it light and doesn’t go into too much detail. That’s my only criticism, I think. However, it was a delightful read and I would highly recommend it.
Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
A cultural history of the goddess of love, from an award-winning historian
Aphrodite was said to have been born from the sea, rising out of a froth of white foam. But long before the Ancient Greeks conceived of this voluptuous blonde, she existed as an early spirit of fertility on the shores of Cyprus — and thousands of years before that, as a ferocious warrior-goddess in the Middle East. Proving that this fabled figure is so much more than an avatar of commercialized romance, historian Bettany Hughes reveals the remarkable lifestory of one of antiquity’s most potent myths.
Venus and Aphrodite brings together ancient art, mythology, and archaeological revelations to tell the story of human desire. From Mesopotamia to modern-day London, from Botticelli to Beyoncé, Hughes explains why this immortal goddess continues to entrance us today — and how we trivialize her power at our peril.