Venus was originally the Italian goddess of fertile soil, the presiding spirit of the vegetable garden. She was a rustic garden goddess with a relatively minimal cult until the Romans identified her with Aphrodite. According to Roman legend, the Romans were descendents of Trojan refugees, the last survivors who escaped the burning city and fled to Italy, where they founded the city of Rome. These Trojans were led by Aeneas, whose survival was ensured by his mother, Greek goddess Aphrodite.

Julius Caesar traced his ancestry to one of Aeneas’ sons, Aphrodite’s grandson. He wished to honour his divine ancestress, but Aphrodite was a bit too foreign for Roman taste and too associated with the sea and lascivious rites. A homegrown Aphrodite was sought and found in the beautiful, fertile vegetable goddess Venus. Julius Caesar dedicated a magnificent temple to Venus Genetrix in the Roman Forum.

In addition to assuming Aphrodite’s traditional attributes and functions, Venus evolved into an ancestral goddess of the Roman elite, those who descended from Aeneas. Venus and Mars, ancestor of Romulus, founder of Rome, serve as the guardians of Rome.



Sacred days:

• 1 April, feast of Venus the Heart Turner: female devotees seeking her blessings of happy love and romance bathe her statues and then garland them with flowers.

• 19 August: houses and gardens are dedicated to Venus, and her blessings are invoked; kitchen gardeners have an official vacation day.



Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.