Aphrodite means "born of foam" (from the Greek aphros). She was created when the Titan Cronus threw the mutilated genitals of his father, Uranus, into the sea, where they foamed and boiled, and out of which, on the shores of Cyprus, appeared Aphrodite-a beautiful, young woman, carried on a scallop shell. An alternative version maintains that she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, an avatar of the earth goddess.Aphrodite can be taken as either the source or the manifestation of the overwhelming and often destructive power of love. Realizing that her beauty would bring trouble, Zeus married her to the ugly and crippled Hephaestus, who, rather counterproductively, created for her a magical, jeweled girdle that made her even more irresistible. Aphrodite had affairs with gods and mortals indiscriminately. She enjoyed liaisons with the mortal Trojan prince Anchises, resulting in the birth of Aeneas, and with the god Hermes, resulting in the birth of Hermaphroditus. She also had a long dalliance with Adonis. Her longest affair was with Ares (Mars), out of which she gave birth to Eros, the armed god of sexual desire whose indiscriminate arrows explain or express the capriciousness and painfulness of love.
by Viv Croot, 30 Second Mythology