Emily Westphal

The Judgment of Aphrodite

Despite what you have read I am not vein
You see me as you want to see me, you are no different
My fate was decided before my consciousness was formed
So take a look, I know it’s what you’re here for
But maybe if Homer would have listened to my side of the story it would have been written differently.

Born of the sea in full goddess form, I never had the chance to be anything else. My beauty marked me.
I arrived naked on the shell of a scallop, and apparently I will never live that down.
The beauty given to me by the sea has cursed me to be the goddess everyone scorns. Zeus was afraid I would cause war to break out among the gods so he quickly forced me to marry Hephaestus. Because his deformity and ugliness made him less of a threat.
I am trapped in a loveless marriage and the gods shame me for unfaithfulness!
I have been punished for my beauty while lesser gods are allowed to act on their own accord.
But Aphrodite must be acting out of lust or jealousy, because that’s how the stories portray me.

These stories speak nothing of my ambition or devotion.
Historians assume the goddess of beauty to be ill-tempered, easily offended, and vain.
They could not understand the complexity of this goddess’ desire so they simplify my intentions and portray me as Aphrodite, the jealous adulteress.
This is how they choose to personify the goddess of love and beauty.
Although I am capable of much destruction and cunning strategy I am known for my short-comings, infamous for my jealousy, and chastised for my beauty.

This beauty has come to define me. I would pray to the gods for a different curse, but living among them none will listen.
For this beauty has become my curse.
Not because of my own vanity or self-involvement, but because of you.
Because this is the goddess you want to see, sculpted and depicted nude, despite always wearing clothes, but it is not the goddess I truly am.

Submitted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Edited: Thursday, April 03, 2014

Topic of this poem: beauty

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