“And Aphrodite, the daughter of Zeus, stood before him, in size and form like an unwed maiden, so that he might not see who she was and be afraid.” – Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite

Who was Anchises?

Anchises was the father of Aeneas. He was a member of the royal family of Troy in Greek mythology. He was said to have been the son of King Capys of Dardania and Themiste, daughter of Ilus, who was the son of Tros.

Anchises was one of the mortal lovers of the goddess Aphrodite. He later had a mortal wife named Eriopis and he is credited with other children beside Aeneas and Lyrus. Homer, in the Iliad, mentions a daughter named Hippodamia, their eldest (“the darling of her father and mother”), who married her cousin Alcathous.

The myth of Prometheus and Pandora

The myth of Demeter, Persephone and Hades

The myth of Pentheus and Dionysus

The myth of Aphrodite and Anchises

The myth of Demeter and Triptolemus

The myth of Aphrodite and Anchises

The myth of Anchises comes from a Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite. In this hymn we learn about how the mortal Anchises was selected by Zeus to become a lover of the goddess Aphrodite.

The Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite features some lovely descriptions of the manner in which the goddess appears to the mortal man:

“And Aphrodite, the daughter of Zeus, stood before him,
in size and form like an unwed maiden,
so that he might not see who she was and be afraid.
When Anchises saw her, he pondered and marveled,
at her size and form, and at her glistening garments.
She was clothed in a robe more brilliant than gleaming fire
and wore spiral bracelets and shining earrings,
while round her tender neck there were beautiful necklaces…”

(Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, lines 81-88)

In this version of the myth Aphrodite pretended to be a Phrygian princess and seduced Anchises for nearly two weeks of lovemaking. Anchises learned that his lover was a goddess only nine months later, when she revealed herself and presented him with the infant Aeneas. Aphrodite had warned him that if he boasted of the affair, he would be blasted by the thunderbolt of Zeus. Anchsies did, and was scorched and/or crippled. After the defeat of Troy in the Trojan War, the elderly Anchises was carried from the burning city by his son Aeneas.

Stay in touch.
Join our community!

Hellenism Forum