aphroditus

Okay, so there’s been some talk of coming up with a term for non-binary people along the lines of ‘Sapphic’ (for women who love women) and ‘Achillean’ (for men who love men), to describe non-binary people who are romantically, sexually, and/or emotionally attracted to other non-binary people. People have suggested ‘Dionysian’ (based on Dionysus, a patron of intersex and transgender people), ‘Adonian’ and ‘Iphisian’, but we’ve noticed major flaws in each of these terms. I did some digging and came up with some ideas.

I want to play off the idea of the word ‘lesbian’ which refers to an island that was the home of perhaps the earliest Western example of a tradition of gay female love poetry. I suggest using either ‘cypric/cyprian’ or ‘paphic/paphian’ (common nouns, so they’re not supposed to be capitalised), based on the titles of Aphrodite.

But why Aphrodite? Wasn’t she a symbol of female sexuality? Well, not entirely. On more than one occasion, Aphrodite took on a more masculine form to seduce men, the most famous example being Hermes, who himself is also a symbol of androgyny. This is a perfect example of two androgynous entities in love, which is as close to what we’re trying to signify as the Ancient Greeks can offer. The problem is that we can’t use the name of the product of this love, because that would be Hermaphroditus* and Eros, both of whom have already given their names to two modern English words that do not fit right in this situation. (It’s a shame, too, because that would have been a perfect solution…)

So we have to dig further. Aphrodite herself was often portrayed in a variety of gendered forms, such as Aphroditus (a bearded woman or a woman with a penis) and Venus Castina (a patron goddess of Roman transgender women). Rituals centered around Aphroditus took place on the island of Cyprus, where Aphrodite was said to be born (specifically in the town of Paphos). Aphroditus’ rituals involved cross dressing and other gender-variant behaviours, symbolising both androgyny and love. Therefore, we could take the name of either Cyprus or Paphos for our purposes, just as the island of Lesbos gave its name to gay women. The words ‘Cyprian’ and ‘Paphian’ both already describe illicit love or promiscuity, although they are rare and obsolete. ‘Paphic’ rhymes too closely with ‘Sapphic’, but ‘Cypric’ (or ‘cypric’ with a lowercase ‘c’, the preferred form) is not even a word already. Why not coin this word for the purpose of describing a non-binary person who is attracted to other non-binary people, regardless of attraction to binary genders?

*(I feel like I have to mention this: I am not advocating the use of the word ‘hermaphrodite’ or glossing over its uses against intersex people; as an intersex person myself, I feel like it’s necessary to make sure everyone understands this.)

Aphroditus or Aphroditos was a male Aphrodite originating from Amathus on the island of Cyprus and celebrated in Athens in a transvestite rite.

Aphroditus was portrayed as having a female shape and clothing like Aphrodite’s but also a beard and phallus, and hence, a male name. This deity would have arrived in Athens from Cyprus in the 4th century BC. In the 5th century BC, however, there existed hermae of Aphroditus, or phallic statues with a female head.

According to Macrobius, who mentions the goddess in his Saturnalia:

“There’s also a statue of Venus on Cyprus, that’s bearded, shaped and dressed like a woman, with scepter and male genitals, and they conceive her as both male and female. Aristophanes calls her Aphroditus, and Laevius says: Worshiping, then, the nurturing god Venus, whether she is male or female, just as the Moon is a nurturing goddess. In his Atthis Philochorus, too, states that she is the Moon and that men sacrifice to her in women’s dress, women in men’s, because she is held to be both male and female.”

Aphroditus is the same as the later god Hermaphroditus, whose name means “Aphroditus in the form of a herm” - a statue shaped as a quadrangular pillar surmounted by a head or bust, and first occurs in the Characters of Theophrastus. Photius also explained that Aphroditus was Hermaphroditus, and cited fragments from Attic comedies mentioning the divinity. In later mythology Hermaphroditus came to be regarded as the son of Hermes and Aphrodite.

The first mention of Hermes and Aphrodite as Hermaphroditus’s parents was by the Greek historian, Diodorus Siculus (1st century BC), in his book Bibliotheca historica, book IV, 4.6.5.

“Hermaphroditus, as he has been called, who was born of Hermes and Aphrodite and received a name which is a combination of those of both his parents. Some say that this Hermaphroditus is a god and appears at certain times among men, and that he is born with a physical body which is a combination of that of a man and that of a woman, in that he has a body which is beautiful and delicate like that of a woman, but has the masculine quality and vigour of a man. But there are some who declare that such creatures of two sexes are monstrosities, and coming rarely into the world as they do they have the quality of presaging the future, sometimes for evil and sometimes for good.”

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Aphroditus

There are different takes on whether Aphroditus is a god on his/her/xir own or if it’s one manifestation of the goddess Aphrodite.

Here is one description:

“In Plato’s dialogue, The Symposium, Socrates and his students are at a party when the discussion of love is introduced. Each person speaks in turn on the subject. Pausanius says there are two kinds of love reflected in two forms of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. One form, Aphrodite Pandemos (“Aphrodite for All People”) is common, earthly, and includes women and boys as objects of love.

The other, Aphrodite Urania (“Celestial Aphrodite,” considered the child of Uranus because she came from his severed genitalia) is transcendent, noble, and represented best by love between men. Aphrodite Urania did not come from a woman (she may be shown emerging from a scrotum), and that apparently made her even more heavenly. In some depictions of her, Aphrodite is portrayed as masculine.

(emphasis mine)

According to Wikipedia the god Aphroditus was celebrated during festivals where men and women exchanged clothes and ”women to act the part of men, and men put on woman’s clothing and play the woman.”

The god was later transformed into the god Hermaphroditus, the source of the word hermaphrodite the old term describing different types of non-gender conforming people in Europe.

Hermaphroditus (aka Aphroditos), son of Aphrodite and Hermes, was raised by naiads in Ida. When he was 15, he traveled to surrounding cities below, bored with his life on the mountain. It was during his journey that he met Salmacis, a nymph who was overcome with lust (not love,) for the handsome young boy. She attempted to seduce him, but Hermaphroditus resisted. When she left, he undressed and bathed in her pool. But Salmacis had not left. She lept into the waters behind him and forced him to kiss her, touching his body. Arms wrapped around him as he struggled, the nymph called out to the gods that they may always be together, never apart. Her wish was granted, and the two’s bodies morphed into one, “a creature of both sexes.” Hermaphroditus prayed to his mother and father that whoever bathed in the same pool from then on would take a similar form to his new one, and his prayer was answered.

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So Bryce and Paradise’s nest brought forth this little horror. His name’s Aphroditus and he’s Paradise’s perfect little angel.
Violet/Coral/Spring. Truly a color combo only a mother could love.
current genes on the left and planned genes on the right.
On that note, I dare anyone to take the scry challenge and make him pretty. 7w7
#16510672

wait….

Statue of Aphroditus

  • Aphroditus was portrayed as having a female shape and clothing like Aphrodite’s but also a beard and phallus, and hence, a male name. This deity would have arrived in Athens from Cyprus in the 4th century BC. In the 5th century BC, however, there existed hermae of Aphroditus, or phallic statues with a female head. 
  • According to Macrobius, who mentions the goddess in his Saturnalia, Philochorus, in his Atthis (referred to by Macrobius), identifies this male-female god with the Moon and says that at its sacrifices men and women exchanged clothing. Philostratus, in describing the rituals involved in the festivals, said that the image or the impersonator of the god was accompanied by a large train of followers in which girls mingled with men because the festivals allowed “women to act the part of men, and men put on woman’s clothing and play the woman.”

I’m always learning something new from Wikipedia.