The Trojan Women

Aphrodite Character Analysis

The Greek goddess of love, beauty, and desire. Along with Hera and Athena, Aphrodite takes part in a beauty competition judged by Paris. She promises Paris that if he wins he can marry Helen, the most beautiful mortal in the world. Aphrodite wins, and so introduces Paris and Helen, thus starting the Trojan War.

Aphrodite Quotes in The Trojan Women

The The Trojan Women quotes below are all either spoken by Aphrodite or refer to Aphrodite. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Cost of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of The Trojan Women published in 2013.
Line 860-1059 Quotes

She mothered the beginning of all this wickedness.
For Paris was her child. And next to her the old king,
who would not destroy the infant Alexander, that dream
of the firebrand’s agony, has ruined Troy and me.
This is not all; listen to the rest I have to say.
Alexander was the judge of the goddess trinity.
Pallas Athena would have given him power, to lead
the Phrygian arms on Hellas and make it desolate.
All Asia was Hera’s promise, and the uttermost zones
of Europe for his lordship, if her way prevailed.
But Aphrodite, marveling at my loveliness,
promised it to him, if he would say her beauty surpassed
all others. Think what this means, and all the consequence.
Cypris prevailed, and I was won in marriage: all
for Greek advantage. You are not ruled by barbarians,
you have not been defeated in war nor serve a tyrant.
Yet Hellas’ fortune was my own misfortune. I,
sold once for my body’s beauty, stand accused, who should
for what has been done wear garlands on my head.

Related Characters: Helen (speaker), Hecuba, Menelaus, Athena, Hera, Aphrodite, Priam, Paris
Page Number: 919
Explanation and Analysis:
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My son was handsome beyond all other men.
You looked at him, and sense went Cyprian at the sight,
since Aphrodite is nothing but the human lust,
named rightly, since the world of lust begins the god’s name.
You saw him in the barbaric splendor of his robes,
gorgeous with gold. It made your senses itch. You thought,
being queen only in Argos, in little luxury,
that once you got rid of Sparta for the Phrygian city
where gold streamed everywhere, you could let extravagance
run wild. No longer were Menelaus and his house
sufficient for your spoiled luxurious appetites.
So much for that. You say my son took you away
by force. What Spartan heard you cry for help? You did
cry out? Or did you? Castor, your brother, was there, a young
man, and his twin not yet caught up among the stars.
Then when you had reached Troy, and the Argives at your heels
came, and the agony of the murderous spears began,
when the reports came in that Menelaus’ side
was winning, you would praise him, simply to make my son
unhappy at the strength of his love’s challenger,
forgetting your husband when the luck went back to Troy.
You worked hard: not to make yourself a better woman,
but to make sure always to be on the winning side.
You claim you tried to slip away with ropes let down
form the ramparts, and this proves you stayed against your will?
Perhaps. But when were you ever caught in the strangling noose,
or sharpening a dagger? Which any noble wife
would do, desperate with longing for her lord’s return.
Yet over and over again I gave you good advice:
“Make your escape, my daughter; there are other girls
for my sons to marry…Let the Greeks, and us,
stop fighting.”

Related Characters: Hecuba (speaker), Menelaus, Helen, Aphrodite, Paris
Page Number: 987
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Aphrodite Character Timeline in The Trojan Women

The timeline below shows where the character Aphrodite appears in The Trojan Women. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Line 860-1059
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...the conflict. Then she blames Paris himself, for stealing her from Greece. Then she blames Aphrodite, who found Helen so beautiful that she promised her as a prize to Paris if... (full context)
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...own volition. Although she admits she did run away, it was because Paris came with Aphrodite at his side. She also points out that Menelaus had left her at home alone.   (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
...home / with the stranger, and betray my country and my hearth?” She argues that Aphrodite’s power was too great, and points out that Aphrodite sometimes overpowers even other gods. How... (full context)
The Cost of War Theme Icon
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Duty, Obligation, and Integrity  Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
...won her hand. She continues to criticize Helen’s claim that she was unable to resist Aphrodite’s pull when she arrived with Paris. Paris was extraordinarily handsome, and Hecuba speculates that Helen’s... (full context)
Fate, Fortune, and the Gods Theme Icon
Men and Women Theme Icon
Menelaus agrees with Hecuba’s assessment of Helen and her story. He thinks her talk of Aphrodite is “for pure show.” Helen falls to her knees before him and holds on to... (full context)