Looking north from Corinth to the Acrocorinth
The Acrocorinth is a high bluff overlooking Corinth from the north. On it’s summit was located the temple to Aphrodite, a goddess of love, whose origins came from the southern shores of Cyprus at Petra tou Romiou (so her other name lady of Cyprus or Cypris) not far from Paphos, visited by Paul Acts 13:6-13 Her name came from the greek term aphros meaning (sea) foam as the goddess arose out of the sea following the excision of Uranus’ genitals, whereas Homer’s iliad has her as the daughter of Zeus and Dione (1) She was identified with the Egyptian Hathor, and as such the feminine form of resurrection and gate-keeper to the afterlife. She was also associated with the Assyrio-babylonian / Phonecian Astarte / Ashtart and so was a re-told story from previous accepted eastern myth. This form is possible seen in the twin-towns of Astaroth-Karnaim – “Astarte of the two horns” Deut 1:4
Aphrodite illicit love to the king of Cyprus’ daughter Myrha led to her death. She appeared as resurrected form in vegetation, particularly the mediteranean poppies once a year, at the time of Tammuz following the wailing and prayers of the female suppliants and prostitute priestesses the night before. This Babylonian festival now resurrected in greek mythology is mentioned in the bible as Tammuz, where women would worship the “Queen of heaven” Jer 4:17; 44:17-25; The cakes mentioned in these references carried the mark of a letter “t” and was a prefigure to the crucifix of modern christianity. This feast of Tammuz in Babylonian times was during the feast of Ishtar, later to become the feast of Easter, and the cakes now known as “hot cross buns”
A famous phonecian temple for the worship of Adonis can be visited at the head of wadi Ibrahim in Lebanon, where cascading waters crash from a cave above the roman temple that stands over the original site.
Such was the early origins of the Aphrodite myth.
Corinth continued the Aphrodite myth into modern times. Aphrodite the creator of regeneration of agricultural pursuits, and the goddess of resurrection carried the forms of success for those seeking better life. Today this is seen in the feminine form promoting success, good-health, wealth and other pleasure and satisfaction. This was on-tap for the transiting sailors across the corinthian isthmus, and an ongoing issue for permissive behaviour and self-satisfaction above Godly constraint in the Corinthian ecclesia.
The greatest of these is Love – said Paul, and an indication not of Eros, a personally fulfilling love of passion, but a giving-away for the long-term and spiritual benefit of others. So compelling was the force of the giving of the life of Jesus as a saviour it compelled Paul, a man once struggling with covetousness, to figuratively “die with Christ” carrying about the dead body of his hero to the roman world. This care of others at personal expense was not well understood; for the greek an indication of weakness, and for the Jewish mind a form of foolishness.
The temple of Aphrodite raises the issues of care for personal interest above the pursuit of God’s interests in others. A timely reminder in an age that the Aphrodite spirit is still alive and well
(1) Homer, Iliad 5.370.