To Aphrodite Rhodophoros

To you we give these hallowed offerings,
a token of our immense affection
O kind–hearted Aphrodite,
loveliest of all the Goddesses
when you emerge from the pure waters
of the rushing river renewed in your power
and gleaming like the imperishable stars in heaven.
Your gentle feet tread the soft earth leaving no mark
save for the green grass and fragrant flowers
that rise up in your wake
proclaiming the arrival of a mighty and revered divinity
in the fair land of the well–born ones.
All the moss–haired Nymphs
who feast on the sweet honey of bees
and cavort with the trumpet–voiced geese
and cunning, food–thieving raccoons
on the shores of the Willamette
come out to greet you weaving a crown
of many–colored wildflowers to adorn your beautiful brow
which shines golden as the rays of the life–giving Lord Helios
who smiles as he watches you dance with effortless grace
amid the blossoming purple irises and the plentiful grape hyacinths.
These skilled daughters of the towering trees and misty raindrops
fashion for you an elegant gown of ivy–leaves to conceal
from all profane eyes the sight of your breasts—
white as the milk that flows from motherly cows,
soft as rose petals in the garden—
and your smoothly rounded hips which sway like leaves
caught in the breeze of a warm May afternoon.
Your hair, dark as the bedchamber of a bride on her wedding night
as she trembles in pleasure at the first exploring touches of her man,
the Nymphs gather with their sparrow–like fingers,
flying too swiftly for a mortal eye to follow
as they braid your perfumed locks and weave
shining stones, glass beads, twigs, rainbow–hued flowers,
the tiny bones of tiny animals
and other treasures that have been left for them
as pious offerings in their verdant, tree–shaded, water–fed haunts.
It was love and appreciation of nature’s beauty
that caused men to gift them such things
so the Nymphs feel it only proper
to return a portion of their yield back to you.
And so arrayed you rise from your bed of dew–moistened loam,
marvelous beyond words to describe,
and begin your grand procession through the fair land
of the well–born ones
followed by a troop of Nymphs and all the birds and animals
who call this place their dear home.
Laughter echoes through the woods
and gay song that brings contentment to the heart
and smiles to the lips of all who hear it,
even if they lack the vision to behold
the old Gods walking amongst them once more.
The whole earth rouses itself with life and color wherever you pass
as the gorgeous flowers unfurl
with the brilliant colors of early summer
and everything feels fresh and new, full of love’s bounty.
So for these and your countless other blessings
we thank you dear Aphrodite,
and pray that you find our offerings
as pleasing as we find you.

2 thoughts on “To Aphrodite Rhodophoros

  1. Aphrodite who receives a tribute of roses? Is that correct?

    Is that an ancient name of Hers, or one that you created?

    This one is so evocative. I can read this hymn and feel it with all five senses, if that makes any sense.


    1. Thank you! And very good – it means “who bears roses” or “adorned with roses” and refers to a class of festivals – called Rosalia or Rosaria in Latin and Rhodismos or Rhodophoria in Greek – that were celebrated in honor of Isis, Hathor, Dionysos, Adonis, Flora and Aphrodite, among others. Generally held during late spring or early summer, they were lavish feasts full of all kinds of sensual indulgence meant to bring revitalization to the land and the dead, at whose graves flowers were placed and suppers were held. We observed it a couple times while I was living in Eugene, and one year I wrote this cult hymn to Aphrodite for it. It was really cool because we had these flower-shaped floating beeswax candles that we placed into the Willamette and then watched them spread out in the twilight as the festivities progressed.

      Wikipedia does a surprisingly decent job of providing an overview of the festival:


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