Gallery: Aphrodite and Artemis

Phaedra and Hippolytus, Sarcophagus (290CE) Louvre
Phaedra and Hippolytus, Sarcophagus (290CE) Louvre

In Euripides’ Hippolytus, Aphrodite (Venus) and Artemis (Diana) are rivals. This Gallery shows how some sculptors and painters represented the two beautiful goddesses. They have similarities: their faces often have the same features. Gregory Nagy in Hour 20, in The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours writes about “The complementarity of Artemis and Aphrodite.” In this Gallery, Phaedra and Hippolytus, both victims, are also present.

Before the royal palace at Trozen. A statue of Aphrodite stands on one side; a statue of Artemis on the other. The goddess Aphrodite appears alone. 


Powerful among mortals am I and not without reputation, I am called the goddess Kypris even in heaven. And those who dwell within the limits of the pontos and the bounds of Atlas, and who behold the light of the sun, whoever of those respects my power, to them I pay special honor; but I bring to ruin whoever has little regard for my greatness. For this feeling exists by nature even among the gods: they find pleasure when they are given tīmē by humans. I will soon prove the truth [alētheia] of my words [mūthoi].  For the son of Theseus and an Amazon, Hippolytus, who was raised by Pittheus, alone among the citizens of Trozen, says that I am the most kakē of the daimones. He scorns the nuptial bed and takes no notice of marriage,  but to Artemis, the sister of Phoebus and daughter of Zeus, he gives timē and believes that she is the greatest of the daimones. Through the green wood he always joins with his virgin goddess and clears wild animals from the land with the help of his swift hounds, since he has come upon company which is beyond mortal. But I don’t begrudge him these things just now, since what concern are they to me? However, for the errors he has committed against me I will have vengeance on Hippolytus on this very day, and since I accomplished many things some time ago I don’t need to go to much effort [ponos].

Euripides Hippolytus 1–23, Sourcebook

Hélène Emeriaud is a retired teacher. She holds a BA in Education from Montreal University, and a Master of Education from McGill University. A Community TA for HeroesX in v3, v4, and v5, she enjoys being a participant in Hour 25.

Photos: H. Emeriaud