the goddess of (sexual) love among the Romans, corresponding to Aphrodite among the Greeks, and in later times confounded with the Oriental deities represented by Mylitta, Ashtoreth (q.v.),etc. The popular myths concerning her origin are various. By some she is represented as the daughter of Jupiter and Dione, but she was poetically said to have sprung from the foam of the sea. She became the wife of Vulcan, but her amours with nearly all the gods and with many mortals were the scandal of heaven and earth. She is depicted under various aspects, but mostly those of unchastity.
As the creatress of the world, called genetrix, the Venus Urania of the Romans and Greeks was sometimes depicted as Androgyne, and even in a manner still more offensive; and this symbolism seems to typify the fact that Venus was feminine, but powerless if alone. When she was delineated with a mural crown, the idea embodied was that she became a mother by her own inherent power. Her frequent symbol was the crescent moon. SEE QUEEN OF HEAVEN. Layard (Nineveh, 2, 345) identifies her with the Inera of classical antiquity, and states that among the Assyrians she sometimes held a serpent in one hand, as in an Egyptian tablet. As a female winged figure, partly naked, and presiding over generation, she is introduced into embroideries of robes in the most ancient palace of Minerva. But the absence of hers obscene symbols in the Assyrian monuments in general is in remarkable contrast with representations in: other Asiatic religions. Rude images of this goddess in baked clay have been disinterred among the ruins of Bagdad (Layard, Babylon, p. 407), Her worship was of general prevalence among the pagan nations of antiquity, and meets us at two or three points of special Biblical interest. It was an impure form of the same worship which presented its more scientific aspect in that of the temple at Ephesus (q.v.) the personification of the productive powers of nature; and there seems to have been the same relation between the rites at Ephesus and Sardis and those at Paphos that exists even at this time between what is called the right-handed and the left-handed worship of the goddess Parvati in India. Among many proofs of-this, the image of the idol itself may be adduced. It was not a human figure. Tacitus (Hist. 2, 3) describes it as conical, and states that the reason why Venus should be worshipped under such a form was not clear. Maximus Tyrius (Diss. 8:8) speaks of it as a white pyramid; and there can be no doubt that it was intended to represent the same idea as the conical stone of which, in later times, Heliogabalus announced himself to be the priest. Artemis at Ephesus, the sun at Emesa, and Aphrodite at Paphos were symbols or personifications of the same attribute-the universal mother; the plastic or all-forming deity, and the productive impulse of nature, were all middle terms for the divine creating energy. Unhappily the impurities of the East were transferred to Paphos (q.v.), and the worship of Venus became a scandal even to the pagan world. The temple at this city was like that of Astarte at Carthage, and the episode of Thammuz was introduced into the myth with a change of name to Adonis. It appears, too, that models of the sacred image were sold at Paphos, just as silver shrines were at Ephesus; and Athenaeus (15, 18) tells a story of one Erostratus who was saved from shipwreck through the possession of such an image.