Study Guide

Pygmalion Aphrodite

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Yep, Greek mythology's resident sex and romance expert makes a brief cameo in the Pygmalion myth. Although she doesn't appear until the end, Aphrodite plays an important role in the story—she's responsible for transforming the statue into a real woman. Big deal.

While at a festival in honor of Aphrodite, Pygmalion prays to the goddess, asking her to give him a bride similar to his statue. Being the perceptive lady that she is, Aphrodite knows the sculptor secretly wants his statue to come to life, and so she grants his wish. So sweet.

But wait. This is uncharacteristically benevolent of Aphrodite who, despite being the goddess of love, was known to be kind of petulant and cold-hearted. Usually, in order to get a favor out of Aphrodite, you needed to give her something in return.

And in fact, some versions of this myth say that Aphrodite visited Pygmalion's studio to look at the statue, and was flattered that his idea of perfect beauty resembled her. Other versions, like Ovid's, leave this visit out entirely. Maybe Pygmalion just caught the goddess in a good mood. The town was throwing a party in her honor, after all.

For much more on Aphrodite (or Venus, as the Romans called her), check out our files on the goddess.

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