Oh shit. I’ve been making a fairly large assumption with this Αφροδίτη Λύκαινα business. Namely that she’s an indigenous, localized Anatolian Goddess.
But what if she’s not? What if the She-Wolf is actually the opposite of that – a Greek expression of a Roman Goddess.
Hear me out.
We have the Orphic Hymn and the coin from Laodicea placing her in Asia Minor – but that evidence is post-annexation.
The Homeric Hymn also puts her in the area – but links her to the founding dynasty of Rome. She seduces Anchísēs, giving birth to Aineías who flees Ilium during its sacking and leads a group of Trojan refugees to central Italy where they set up a colony. In time his descendants Romulus and Remus establish the city of Rome which develops an empire that eventually swallows up even their ancestral homeland. But not before they are abandoned and then rescued by a she-wolf, who fosters them in the Lupercal cave.
That’s a very elegant solution – and one with some interesting implications. By identifying Aphrodite with the surrogate mother of Romulus and Remus the author of the hymn used by the Orphic community in Asia Minor is expressing pro-Roman sentiment, suggesting he belonged to the local cultural elite. Dionysians and especially Bacchic Orphics are often represented as marginal, antisocial figures – even when we have plenty of evidence to the contrary.