The myth of Aphrodite and Anchises
One of our best ancient sources for 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 paramour 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 him 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. He 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.