Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Friday, 13 April 2012

Goddess Venus, Adonis, Eros, Pygmalion and Galatea, Pandora, and Astarte


APHRODITE/VENUS was the great Olympian goddess of beauty, love, pleasure and and procreation. She was depicted as a beautiful woman usually accompanied by the winged godling Eros (Love). Her attributes included a dove, apple, scallop shell and mirror. In classical sculpture and fresco she was often depicted nude.
Apuleius, The Golden Ass 11. 218  (Roman novel C2nd A.D.) : 
"At another time you [Egyptian Isis] are heavenly Venus [Aphrodite]; in giving birth to Amor [Eros, love] when the world was first begun, you united the opposing sexes and multiplied the human race by producing ever abundant offspring; now you are venerated at the wave-lapped shrine of Paphos.
At another time you are Proserpina [Hecate], whose howls at night inspire dread, and whose triple form restrains the emergence of ghosts as you keep the entrance to the earth above firmly barred. You wander through diverse groves, and are appeased by various rites."
Suidas s.v. Aphrodision (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :
"Aphrodision (Of Aphrodite, Aphrodisiac): The work of Aphrodite. It is used for lustful men, those who are disposed erotically and excessively to intercourse . . .
A proverb: ‘an Aphrodisian oath may be violated with impunity’, [applied] to those who because of passion swear [oaths] often and swear falsely."
Suidas s.v. Anorgias :
"Anorgias (Being uninitiated, state of uninitiation): Also anorgiastois [un-rited], unexperienced in the mysteries. ‘The rites of Aphrodite are uncelebrated by you [for a long time].’ Meaning you have not engaged in rites for Aphrodite [i.e. sexual intercourse]; you have not completed them."
The most common version of the birth of Aphrodite describes her born in sea-foam from the castrated genitals of the sky-god Uranus.
Hesiod, Theogony 176 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"Uranus (the Sky) came, bringing on night and longing for love, and he lay about Gaia (the Earth) spreading himself full upon her. Then the son [Cronos] from his ambush stretched forth his left hand and in his right took the great long sickle with jagged teeth, and swiftly lopped off his own father's members and cast them away to fall behind him . . . and so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came tosea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite, and Aphrogeneia (the foam-born) because she grew amid the foam, and well-crowned (eustephanos) Cythera because she reached Cythera, and Kyprogenes because she was born in billowy Cyprus, and Philommedes (Genital-Loving) because sprang from the members. And with her went Eros (Love), and comely Himeros (Desire) followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods. This honor she has from the beginning, and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods,--the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness."

Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 521 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"I [Aphrodite] should find some favor with the sea, for in its holy depths in days gone by from sea-foam I was formed, and still from foam I take my name in Greece."

 Birth of Venus 
 C1st AD
Venus (Aphrodite) sails across the sea, reclining naked in the hollow of a cockle shell, her shawl billowing out behind her in the breeze. A Nereid Nymph rides beside her on the back of a leaping dolphin and the winged love-god Cupid (Eros) crouches by the foot of her shell.
 Alexandre Cabanel, The Birth of Venus (1863)
 Jean-Leon Gerome, Venus Rising the Star
Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 197 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Into the Euphrates River an egg of wonderful size is said to have fallen, which the fish rolled to the bank. Doves sat on it, and when it was heated, it hatched out Venus [Aphrodite], who was later called the Syrian goddess."

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Salonica, Italy Date: ca 370 - 360 BC
Aphrodite is born from the sea in the heart of a cockle shell. To her left stands the herald Hermes, holding his caduceus. Eros flutters by her side, and to the right sits Poseidon with trident in hand.
 Sandro BOTTICELLI, The Birth of Venus

 William-Adolphe Bouguereau, The Birth of Venus
Museum Collection: British Museum, London, UK Date: ca 350 BC
The goddess Aphrodite stands before a man weighing a pair of Erotes (winged love-gods) on the scales of fate (a so-called erostasia). One of these is Eros (Love proferred) and the other Anteros (Love returned).
Aphrodite rides on the back of the swan, accompanied by a pair of winged Erotes (love-gods) holding myrtle wreaths.
 National Museum, Athens, Greece Date: ca 400 - 300 BC
Erostasia (weighing of the loves). Aphrodite accompanied by the god Hermes, weighs the Erotes (Loves) on the golden scales of fate. One of these is Eros (Love) and the other Anteros (Love Returned).
Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, New York City, USADate: ca 375 - 350 BC
An Eros playing ephisdremos (piggy-back) with a woman, drives her in love towards her suitor. The man is accompanied by a seated Aphrodite, holding a dove in her hand.


Eros was usually called the son of Aphrodite. Some say that the goddess was born pregnant with the godling, others that Ares was his father.
Hesiod, Theogony 176 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"A white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden [Aphrodite] . . . And with her went Eros (Love), and comely Himeros (Desire) followed her at her birth at the first." [N.B. Hesiod is apparently saying these two gods were born along with the goddess, or that she gave birth to them at her own birth.]
Ovid, Heroides 7. 59 ff (trans. Showerman) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Venus or Aphrodite] the mother of the Amores [Erotes, loves]."

Imperial Roman
Eros crowned with ivy, sipping wine from a drinking cup,rides on the back of a tiger decked with grape vines.
 Ruins of Bulla Regia (in situ), Tunisia
 Imperial Roman
The winged god Eros riding across the sea on the back of a dolphin.

Scholiast on Apollonius of Rhodes (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric III Ibycus Frag 324) (Greek scholia) :
"Apollonios [Greek poet C3rd B.C.] makes Eros child of Aphrodite, Sappho [Greek poet C6th B.C.] makes him child of Ge and  Uranus, Simonides [Greek poet C6th-5th B.C.] child of Aphrodite and Ares, Ibycus [poet C6th B.C.] . . ((lacuna)), and Hesiod [Greek poet C8th-7th B.C.] says Eros came from Khaos."
Scholiast on Theocritus (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric I Sappho, Fragment 198) (Greek scholia) :
"Alkaios [Greek poet C6th B.C.] said Eros was the child of Iris (Rainbow) and Zephyros (West Wind); Sappho [Greek poet C6th B.C.] made him the child of Aphrodite and Ouranos (Heaven)."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 9. 27. 1 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"Most men consider Eros to be the youngest of the gods and the son of Aphrodite. But Olen the Lykian [legendary Greek poet] who composed the oldest Greek hymns, says in a hymn to Eileithyia that she was the mother of Eros. Later than Olen, both Pamphos and Orpheus [legendary Greek poets] wrote hexameter verse, and composed poems on Eros, in order that they might be among those sung by the Lykomidai to accompany the ritual. I read them after conversation with a Torchbearer. Of these things I will make no further mention. Hesiod, or he who wrote the Theogony fathered on Hesiod, writes, I know, that Khaos was born first, and after Khaos, Ge (Earth), Tartaros and Eros. Sappho of Lesbos wrote many poems about Eros, but they are not consistent.”
Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli, Naples, Italy
 C1st AD
Venus (Aphrodite) reclines half-naked in the arms of Mars (Ares) the god of war. Their sons, the winged Cupid (Eros) and wingless Formido (Phobos) (?), play with the arms of the god.
  Sandro BOTTICELLI, Venus and Mars
TIZIANO Vecellio,  Venus and Cupid with an Organist
 Alessandro Allori, (1535 - 1607) Venus and Cupid
 Maarten van Heemskerck (1498 - 1547), Venus and Cupid
 Evelyn de Morgan, Venus and Cupid
  Raphael, Venus and Cupid
 Adonis (Phoenician "lord"), in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old Testament. Syrian Adonis is closely related to the Cypriot Gauas or Aos, to Egyptian  Osiris, to the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, to the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian  Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation. His religion belonged to women: the dying of Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, about 600 BCE, as revealed in a fragment of Sappho's surviving poetry .
 Venus and Adonis, Annibale Carracci
Paulo Veronese, Venus and Adonis
 Bartholomeus Spranger, Venus and Adonis
 Rubens, Venus and Adonis
 Titian, Venus with a Mirror

Rubens,  Venus and her Toilet

  Diego Velázquez, Venus at Her Mirror
 Edward Burne-Jones,The Mirror Of Venus
 Gulio Romano Venus and Mars Bathing
 Edward Burne-Jones,The Bath of Venus
  Lord Frederick Leighton,Venus Disrobing for the bath
The age of heroes ended with Zeus deciding to put an end to Aphrodite's practice of mating gods with men. To this effect he caused her to fall in love with a mortal man, and suffer the strife of bearing a mortal son.
Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 45 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C7th or 6th B.C.) :
"Upon Aphrodite herself Zeus cast sweet desire to be joined in love with a mortal man . . . lest laughter-loving Aphrodite should one day softly smile and say mockingly among all the gods that she had joined the gods in love with mortal women who bare sons of death to the deathless gods, and had mated the goddesses with mortal men."
Homeric Hymn 5 to Aphrodite 247 ff :
"[Aphrodite to Ankhises her mortal lover:] ‘Now because of you I shall have great shame among the deathless gods henceforth, continually. For until now they feared my jibes and the wiles by which, or soon or late, I mated all the immortals with mortal women, making them all subject to my will. But now my mouth shall no more have this power among the gods; for very great has been my madness, my miserable and dreadful madness, and I went astray out of my mind who have gotten a child beneath my girdle, mating with a mortal man."
 Carpioni Gulio, Feast of Venus, ‎
 The veneration of Venus, Rubens
 Beham, (Hans) Sebald  Venus, from The Seven Planets with the Signs of the Zodiac, 1539
 Cardiff castle ( Wales ). Clock tower ( 1869 ): Statue of Venus.
 Frescos ( 1580 ) at the facade - Allegory of the planet Venus

Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 243 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Pygmalion [King of Kypros] lived celibate and long lacked the companionship of married love. Meanwhile he carved his snow-white ivory with marvellous triumphant artistry and gave it perfect shape, more beautiful than ever woman born. His masterwork fired him with love. It seemed to be alive, its face to be real girl's, a girl who wished to move - but modesty forbade. Such art his art concealed. In admiration his heart desired the body he had formed. With many a touch he tries it - is it flesh or ivory? Not ivory still, he's sure! Kisses he gives and thinks they are returned; he speaks to it, caresses it, believes the firm new flesh beneath his fingers yields, and fears the limbs may darken with a bruise. And now fond words he whispers, now brings gifts that girls delight in - shells and polished stones, and little birds and flowers of every hue, lilies and colored balls and beads of amber . . . He decks her limbs with robes and on her fingers sets splendid rings, a necklace round her neck, pearls in her ears, a pendant on her breast; lovely she looked, yet unadorned she seemed in nakedness no white less beautiful. He laid her on a couch of purple silk, called her his darling, cushioning her head, as if she relished it, on softest down.
Venus' [Aphrodite's] day came, the holiest festival all Cyprus celebrates; incense rose high and heifers, with their wide horns gilded, fell beneath the blade that struck their snowy necks. Pygmalion, his offering given, prayed before the altar, half afraid, ‘Vouchsafe, O Gods, if all things you can grant, my bride shall be’ - he dared not say my ivory girl - ‘The living likeness of my ivory girl.’ And golden Venus [Aphrodite] (for her presence graced her feast) knew well the purpose of his prayer; and, as an omen of her favoring power, thrice did the flame burn bright and leap up high. And he went home, home to his heart’s delight, and kissed her as she lay, and she seemed warm; again he kissed her and with marveling touch caressed her breast; beneath his touch the flesh grew soft, its ivory hardness vanishing, and yielded to his hands, as in the sun wax of Hymettus softens and is shaped by practiced fingers into many forms, and usefulness acquires by being used. His heart was torn with wonder and misgiving, delight and terror that it was not true! Again and yet again he tried his hopes - she was alive! The pulse beat in her veins! And then indeed in words that overflowed he poured his thanks to Venus [Aphrodite], and at last his lips pressed real lips, and she, his girl, felt every kiss, and blushed, and shyly raised her eyes to his and saw the world and him. The goddess graced the union she had made, and when nine times the crescent moon had filled her silver orb, an infant girl was born, Paphos, from whom the island takes its name."

Louis Gauffier, Pygmalion and Galatea
Neapolitan School, Venus bringing to life Pygmalion's statue

Ernest Normand
Franz von Stuck, Pygmalion
Thomas Rowlandson (1756-1827 ): Modern Pygmalion


Aphrodite bestowed her gifts on Pandora the first woman, commissioned by Zeus to punish mankind for Prometheus' theft of fire.
Hesiod, Works and Days 60 ff (trans. Evelyn-White) (Greek epic C8th or 7th B.C.) :
"He [Zeus] bade famous Hephaistos make haste and mix earth with water and to put in it the voice and strength of human kind, and fashion a sweet, lovely maiden-shape, like to the immortal goddesses in face; and Athene to teach her needlework and the weaving of the varied web; and golden Aphrodite to shed grace upon her head and cruel longing and cares that weary the limbs. And he charged Hermes the Guide, Argeiphontes, to put in her a shameless mind and a deceitful nature. So he ordered. And they obeyed the lord Zeus Kronion . . . [and after her creation they] named this woman Pandora (All-Gifts), because all they who dwelt on Olympus gave each a gift, a plague to men who eat bread."

Jean Alaux, Pandora Carried by Mercury
John William  Waterhouse, Pandora
In Greek mythology Pandora (ancient Greek, Πανδώρα, derived from πᾶν "all" and δῶρον "gift", thus "all-gifted", "all-endowed") was the first woman. As Hesiod related it, each god helped create her by giving her unique gifts. Zeus ordered Hephaestus  to mold her out of earth as part of the punishment of mankind for Prometheus' theft of the secret of, and all the gods joined in offering her "seductive gifts". Her other name, inscribed against her figure on a  white-ground kylix in the British Museum, is Anesidora, "she who sends up gifts," up implying "from below" within the earth. According to the myth, Pandora opened a jar (pithos), in modern accounts sometimes mistranslated as “Pandora box”, releasing all the evils of mankind — although the particular evils, aside from plagues and diseases, are not specified in detail by Hesiod — leaving only Hope inside once she had closed it again. She opened the jar out of simple curiosity and not as a malicious act.
 Pandora Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema
 Jules Joseph Lefebvre, Pandora
 Jean Cousin the Elder,Eva Prima Pandora
 Arthur Rackham, Pandora
 John Dickson Batten, Pandora
 Psyche was the goddess of the soul, wife of Eros god of love.
She was once a mortal princess whose astounding beauty earned the ire of Aphrodite when men turned their worship from goddess to girl. Aphrodite commanded Eros make Psyche fall in love with the most hideous of men, but the god himself fell in love with her and carried her away to his secret palace. However Eros hid his true identity, and commanded her never to look upon his face. Psyche was eventually tricked by her jealous sisters into gazing upon the face of god, and he abandoned her. In her despair, she searched throughout the world for her lost love, and eventually came into the service of Aphrodite. The goddess commanded her perform a series of difficult labors which culminated in a journey to the Underworld. In the end Psyche was reunited with Eros and the couple wed in a ceremony attended by the gods.

Raphael, Venus and Psyche
Ovid, Metamorphoses 4. 285 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"When he [Hermaphroditus] saw the waters of the pool, where he had dived a man, had rendered him half woman [as he merged forms with the Nympha Salmakis] and his limbs now weak and soft, raising his hands, Hermaphroditus cried, his voice unmanned, ‘Dear father [Hermes] and dear mother [Aphrodite] , both of whose names I bear, grant me, your child, that whoso in these waters bathes a man emerge half woman, weakened instantly [that is, made effeminate].’ Both parents hears; both, moved to gratify their bi-sexed son, his purpose to ensure, drugged the bright water with that power impure."

 ROSE (Greek "rhodon")
The Anacreontea, Fragment 35 (trans. Campbell, Vol. Greek Lyric II) (Greek lyric B.C.) :
"The soft rose. It is the breath of the gods and the joy of mortals, the glory of the Charities (Graces) in spring-time, the delight of the Erotes (Loves) with their rich garlands and of Aphrodite; it is a subject for poetry and the graceful plant of the Mousai."
The Anacreontea, Fragment 44 :
"Let us mix the Erotes' rose with Dionysos: let us fasten on our brows the rose with its lovely petals and drink, laughing gently. Rose, finest of flowers, rose, darling of spring, rose, delight of the gods also, rose with which Kythere's [Aphrodite's] son [Eros] garlands his lovely curls when he dances with the Charities."
ANEMONE (Greek "anenome")
Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 705 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Aphrodite cries at the death of her love Adonis:] ‘Your blood shall change into a flower . . . and ere an hour had passed a blood-red flower arose, like the rich bloom of pomegranates . . . yet is its beauty brief, so lightly cling it petals, fall so soon, when the winds [Greek anemoi] blow that give the flower [anemone] its name.’ "
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32. 10 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"That herb of passion [the myrtle] which Kythereia [Aphrodite] loves as much as the rose, as much as the anemone, which she wears when she is about to mingle her love with Myrrha's son [Adonis]."

MYRTLE & MYRRH (Greek "myrrhina" and "smyrna")
Both plants were connected with the birth of Adonis (in two alternate versions of the story).
Aesop, Fables 205 (from Phaedrus 3. 17) (trans. Gibbs) (Greek fable C6th B.C.) :
"Once upon a time, the gods selected the trees which they wished to adopt as their own. Jove [Zeus] chose the oak tree, while Venus [Aphrodite] preferred the myrtle tree, Phoebus [Apollon] the laurel."
Pausanias, Description of Greece 6. 24. 7 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"The rose and the myrtle are sacred to Aphrodite and connected with the story of Adonis."
APPLE (Greek "melon")
Pausanias, Description of Greece 2. 10. 4 (trans. Jones) (Greek travelogue C2nd A.D.) :
"[The statue of Aphrodite in Sikyon is] carrying in one hand a poppy and in the other an apple
Philostratus the Elder, Imagines 1. 6 (trans. Fairbanks) (Greek rhetorician C3rd A.D.) :
"[Description of an ancient Greek painting:] The Erotes (Loves) bring [to Aphrodite] first-fruits of the apples, and gathering around they pray to her that their apple-orchard may prosper."

Venus and Cupid, c. 1605-10. Jacques de Gheyn II.
POMEGRANATE (Greek "rhoa")

The pomegranate was sacred to Aphrodite in Cyprus. The fruit symbolized the consummation of marriage and the loss of female virginity (for example, in the story of Persephone). It was also believed to work as a natural abortifaction agent. The fruit was also sacred to Hera as the goddess of marriage.
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 3. 84c (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Eriphos in the Meliboia . . .: A: And here are the pomegranates. B: How nice they are! A: Ay, for they say this was the one and only tree that Aphrodite planted in Cyprus. B: Worshipful Berbeia!"
I) TURTLE-DOVE & SPARROW (Greek "trugon" and "struthous")
Aelian, On Animals 10. 33 (trans. Schofield) (Greek natural history C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"White Turtle-doves are often to be seen. These, they say, are sacred to Aphrodite and Demeter."

Pseudo-Hyginus, Fabulae 197 (trans. Grant) (Roman mythographer C2nd A.D.) :
"Into the Euphrates River an egg of wonderful size is said to have fallen, which the fish rolled to the bank. Doves sat on it, and when it was heated, it hatched out Venus, who was later called the Syrian goddess. Since she excelled the rest in justice and uprightness, by a favour granted by Jove [Zeus], the fish were put among the number of the stars, and because of this the Syrians do not eat fish or doves, considering them as gods."
"Fishes. Diognetus Erythraeus says that once Venus [Aphrodite] and her son Cupid [Eros] came in Syria to the river Euphrates. There Typhon, of whom we have already spoken, suddenly appeared. Venus [Aphrodite] and her son threw themselves into the river and there changed their forms to fishes, and by so doing this escaped danger. So afterwards the Syrians, who are adjacent to these regions, stopped eating fish, fearing to catch them lest with like reason they seem either to oppose the protection of the gods, or to entrap the gods themselves."
 Raphael, Venus on the Chariot Pulled by Doves
Ovid, Metamorphoses 5. 319 ff (trans. Melville) (Roman epic C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"Typhoeus, issuing from earth's lowest depths, struck terror in those heavenly hearts, and they all turned their backs and fled . . . and the gods concealed themselves in spurious shapes . . . Venus [Aphrodite] became a fish."
Shellfish were regarded as sacred to Aphrodite from the cockle-shell (in which she is depicted floating at her birth) to the mussel, clam and . Similarly the pearl was her sacred stone.
Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 3. 88a (trans. Gullick) (Greek rhetorician C2nd to 3rd A.D.) :
"Antigonos of Karystos, in his treatise on Diktion, says that this shell-fish [the earr-mussles] is called ‘Aphrodite's ear’ by the Aiolians."
Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32. 10 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The Indian stone of love [the pearl], offspring itself of the waters and akin to Aphrogeneia (the Foamborn)."


Nonnus, Dionysiaca 32. 10 ff (trans. Rouse) (Greek epic C5th A.D.) :
"The Indian stone of love [the pearl], offspring itself of the waters and akin to Aphrogeneia (the Foamborn)."

Spranger,Bartholomaeus, Venus in Vulcan's forge
 Peter Paul Rubens Venus Frigida
 Venus, Cupid, Baccchus and Ceres, Rubens
Venus and SatyrSebastiano Ricci
 Venus Inebriated by a Satyr, Annibale Carracci
 Venus At Vulcan's Forge Frans Floris De Vriendt
Venus at the forge of Vulcan, Louis Le Nain 

Triumph of venus Boucher, Francois


Aphrodite was identified with the Assyrian goddess Ashtarte and the Roman goddess Venus, amongst others. 
Astarte was connected with fertility, sexuality, and war. Her symbols were the lion, the horse, , the sphinx the dove,  and a star within a circle indicating the planet Venus. Pictorial representations often show her naked.
Astarte was accepted by the Greeks, under the name of Aphrodite. The island of Cyprus, one of Astarte's greatest faith centers, supplied the name Cypris as Aphrodite's most common by name.
Astarte[ (Greek Ἀστάρτη, "Astártē") is the Greek name of agoddess known throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from the Bronze Age to Classical times. Originally the deified evening star, she is found as Ugaric ‘ṯtrt ("‘Aṯtart" or "‘Athtart"); Phoenician "‘shtrt" (‘Ashtart); and Hebrew עשתרת (Ashtoret, singular, or Ashtarot, plural),  the grammatically masculine name of the goddess Ishtar the form Astartu is used to describe her age. The name appears also in Etruscan as Astre (Pyrgi tablets), Ishtar or Ashtart.

Suidas s.v. Astarte (trans. Suda On Line) (Byzantine Greek lexicon C10th A.D.) :"Astarte: The one called Aphrodite by the Greeks, who took the name from the planet. They tell in myth that the morning star (Eosphoros) [the planet Venus] is hers."
Cicero, De Natura Deorum 3. 21-23 (trans. Rackham) (Roman rhetorician C1st B.C.) :
"[One form of Aphrodite] we [the Greeks and Romans] obtained from Syria and Cyprus, and is called Astarte; it is recorded that she married Adonis."
Astarte arrived in Ancient Egypt during the 18th dynasty along with other deities who were worshipped by northwest Semitic people. She was especially worshipped in her aspect as a warrior goddess, often paired with the goddess Anat..

In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Ra and are given in marriage to the god Set, here identified with the Semitic name Hadad. Astarte also was identified with the lioness warrior goddess Sekhemet, but seemingly more often conflated, at least in part, with Isis to judge from the many images found of Astarte suckling a small child. Indeed there is a statue of the 6th century BC in the Cairo Museum, which normally would be taken as portraying Isis with her child Horus on her knee and which in every detail of iconography follows normal Egyptian conventions, but the dedicatory inscription reads: "Gersaphon, son of Azor, son of Slrt, man of Lydda, for his Lady, for Astarte." See G. Daressy, (1905) pl. LXI (CGC 39291).
n the description of the Phoenician pantheon ascribed to Sanchuniathon, Astarte appears as a daughter of Epigeius (Greek: Uranus) and Ge (Earth), and sister of the godElus. After Elus overthrows and banishes his father Epigeius, as some kind of trick Epigeius sends Elus his "virgin daughter" Astarte along with her sisters Ashereh and the goddess who will later be called Baa lat Gebal, "the Lady of Byblos". It seems that this trick does not work, as all three become wives of their brother Elus. Astarte bears Elus children who appear under Greek names as seven daughters called the Titanides or Artemides and two sons named Pothos "Longing" and  Eros "Desire". Later with Elus' consent, Astarte and hadad reign over the land together. Astarte puts the head of a bull on her own head to symbolize Her sovereignty. Wandering through the world, Astarte takes up a star that has fallen from the sky (a meteorite) and consecrates it at Tyre.

Ashteroth Karnaim (Astarte was called Ashteroth in the Hebrew Bible) was a city in the land of Bashan east of the Jordan River, mentioned in Genesis 14:5 and Joshua 12:4 (where it is rendered solely as Ashteroth). The name translates literally to 'Ashteroth of the Horns', with 'Ashteroth' being a Canaanite fertitility goddess and 'horns' being symbolic of mountain peaks. Figurines of Astarte have been found at various archaeological sites in Palestine, showing the goddess with two horns.
Astarte's most common symbol was the crescent moon (or horns), according to religious studies scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell, in his book The Devil: perceptions of evil from antiquity to primitive Christianity

Figurine of Astarte with a horned headdress
 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Astarte Syriaca
Herodotus, Histories 1. 199 :
"The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life . . . most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite [Mylitta] . . . Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, ‘I invite you in the name of Mylitta’ (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite)."

There was a temple in Babylonia where every female had to perform once in her life a (to us) strange act of religion: namely, prostitution with a stranger. The name of it was Bit-Shagatha, or, "The Temple," the "Place of Union."
They indicate the passion of amatory devotion. It is among the Hindus of to-day as it was in Greece and Italy of classic times; and we find that "holy women" is a title given to those who devote their bodies to be used for hire, the price of which hire goes to the service of the temple.As a general rule, we may assume that priests who make or expound the laws, which they declare to be from God, are men, and, consequently, through all time, have .thought, and do think, of the gratification of the masculine half of humanity. The ancient and modern Orientals are not exceptions. They lay it down as a momentous fact that virginity is the most precious of all the possessions of a woman, and, being so, it ought, in some way or other, to be devoted to God.
Throughout India, and also through the densely inhabited parts of Asia, and modern Turkey, there is a class of females who dedicate themselves to the service of the Deity whom they adore; and the rewards accruing from their prostitution are devoted to the service of the templeand the priests officiating therein. With an eye to piety and pelf, the clerical officials at the Hindu shrines take effectual means for procuring none but the most fascinating women for the use of their worshipers. The same practice prevailed at Athens, Corinth, and elsewhere, where the temples of Venus were supported by troops of women, who consecrated themselves, or were dedicated by their parents, to the use of the male worshipers. In modern times, reform and improvements have been effected; but it is certain that intercourse between thesexes in sacred places is common in India at the present day. The Hebrew wordzanah, which signifies "semen emittere," was the name of a woman who lived and practiced the same rite outside of the temple, from motives other than those esteemed pious. Feasts and holy days were devoted to this passion, and generally concluded with excess.  
In the Assyrian language, Shaga signifies "a feast." The nature of this feast is explained by Diodorus Siculus. He says: "Our Gala or Solar days begin with fasting as a prelude to another form of sensual enjoyment." A detailed description of one of them conveys only a proximate idea of them. The most disgraceful of the Babylonian customs is the following: "Every native woman is obliged once in her life to sit in the temple of Venus and have intercourse with a stranger. And many, disdaining to mix with the rest, being proud on account of their wealth, dome in covered carriages, and take up their station at the temple with a numerous train of servants attending them. But the far greater do thus: Many sit down in the temple of Venus wearing a crown of cord around their heads; some are continually coming in, others are going out; passages marked out in a straight line lead in every direction through the women, along which strangers pass and make their choice. When a woman has once seated herself, she must not return home until some stranger has thrown a piece of silver into
her lap, and lain with her outside of the temple. He who throws the silver must say thus: 'I beseech the Goddess Mylitta to favor thee,' Mylitta being the Assyrian name for Venus. The silver may be ever so small, for she will not reject it, inasmuch as it is unlawful for her to do so, for such silver is accounted sacred. The woman follows the first man that throws, and refuses none. When she has had intercourse, and has absolved herself from her goddess, she returns home. Those that are endowed with beauty and symmetry of shape are so-on set free, but the deformed are detained a long time from inability to satisfy the law: some wait for the space of three or four years."
A similar custom exists in some parts of Cyprus. This custom is referred to in I. Sam. ii, 22, where "the sons of Eli lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation." It is needless to say for the benefit of the captious that the temple of the Assyrians was the tabernacle of the Hebrews. In both were congregations of the Lord. In both the holy presence of their God was made manifest.