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Roman theology presents Venus as the yielding, watery female principle, essential to the generation and balance of life. Her male counterparts in the Roman pantheon, Vulcan and Mars , are active and fiery. Venus absorbs and tempers the male essence, uniting the opposites of male and female in mutual affection. She is essentially assimilative and benign, and embraces several otherwise quite disparate functions. She can give military victory, sexual success, good fortune and prosperity. In one context, she is a goddess of prostitutes; in another, she turns the hearts of men and women from sexual vice to virtue. Petronius , in his Satyricon , places an image of Venus among the Lares household gods of the freedman Trimalchio 's lararium. Some Roman sources say that girls who come of age offer their toys to Venus; it is unclear where the offering is made, and others say this gift is to the Lares. Venus' signs were for the most part the same as Aphrodite's. They include roses, which were offered in Venus' Porta Collina rites,  and above all, myrtle Latin murtos , which was cultivated for its white, sweetly scented flowers, aromatic, evergreen leaves and its various medical-magical properties. Venus' statues, and her worshipers, wore myrtle crowns at her festivals. Likewise, Roman folk-etymology transformed the ancient, obscure goddess Murcia into "Venus of the Myrtles, whom we now call Murcia". The female pudendum , particularly the clitoris, was known as murtos myrtle. As goddess of love and sex, Venus played an essential role at Roman prenuptial rites and wedding nights, so myrtle and roses were used in bridal bouquets. Marriage itself was not a seduction but a lawful condition, under Juno 's authority; so myrtle was excluded from the bridal crown. Venus was also a patron of the ordinary, everyday wine drunk by most Roman men and women; the seductive powers of wine were well known. In the rites to Bona Dea , a goddess of female chastity,  Venus, myrtle and anything male were not only excluded, but unmentionable. The rites allowed women to drink the strongest, sacrificial wine, otherwise reserved for the Roman gods and Roman men; the women euphemistically referred to it as "honey". Under these special circumstances, they could get virtuously, religiously drunk on strong wine, safe from Venus' temptations. Outside of this context, ordinary wine that is, Venus' wine tinctured with myrtle oil was thought particularly suitable for women. The ovation ceremony was assimilated to Venus Victrix "Victorious Venus" , who was held to have granted and purified its relatively "easy" victory. Fabius Gurges in the heat of a battle against the Samnites. It was dedicated in BC, at a site near the Aventine Hill , and was supposedly funded by fines imposed on Roman women for sexual misdemeanours. Its rites and character were probably influenced by or based on Greek Aphrodite 's cults, which were already diffused in various forms throughout Italian Magna Graeca. Its dedication date connects Venus Obsequens to the Vinalia rustica festival. The Sibylline oracle suggested that if the Venus Erycina "Venus of Eryx " , patron goddess of Carthage's Sicillian allies, could be persuaded to change her allegiance, Carthage might be defeated. Rome laid siege to Eryx, offered its goddess a magnificent temple as reward for her defection, captured her image and brought it to Rome. It was installed in a temple on the Capitoline Hill , as one of Rome's twelve Dii consentes. Shorn of her more overtly Carthaginian characteristics,  this "foreign Venus" became Rome's Venus Genetrix "Venus the Mother" ,    As far as the Romans were concerned, this was the homecoming of an ancestral goddess to her people. Roman tradition made Venus the mother and protector of the Trojan prince Aeneas , ancestor of the Roman people. Soon after, Rome's defeat of Carthage confirmed Venus's goodwill to Rome, her links to its mythical Trojan past, and her support of its political and military hegemony. A separate cult to Venus Erycina as a fertility deity,  was established in BC, in a traditionally plebeian district just outside Rome's sacred boundary , near the Colline Gate. The temple, cult and goddess probably retained much of the original's character and rites. The general and dictator Sulla adopted Felix "Lucky" as a surname, acknowledging his debt to heaven-sent good fortune and his particular debt to Venus Felix, for his extraordinarily fortunate political and military career. He claimed the favours of Venus Victrix in his military success and Venus Genetrix as a personal, divine ancestress — apparently a long-standing family tradition among the Julii. When Caesar was assassinated, his heir, Augustus , adopted both claims as evidence of his inherent fitness for office, and divine approval of his rule. He finds the Corinthian style, slender, elegant, enriched with ornamental leaves and surmounted by volutes , appropriate to Venus' character and disposition. It was the largest temple in Ancient Rome. Her sacred month was April Latin Mensis Aprilis which Roman etymologists understood to derive from aperire, "to open," with reference to the springtime blossoming of trees and flowers. Venus Verticordia was invented in BC, in response to advice from a Sibylline oracle during Rome's Punic Wars ,  when a series of prodigies was taken to signify divine displeasure at sexual offenses among Romans of every category and class, including several men and three Vestal Virgins. At first, this statue was probably housed in the temple of Fortuna Virilis , perhaps as divine reinforcement against the perceived moral and religious failings of its cult. In BC Venus Verticordia was given her own temple. During her rites, her image was taken from her temple to the men's baths, where it was undressed and washed in warm water by her female attendants, then garlanded with myrtle. Women and men asked Venus Verticordia's help in affairs of the heart, sex, betrothal and marriage. For Ovid , Venus's acceptance of the epithet and its attendant responsibilities represented a change of heart in the goddess herself. Venus was patron of " profane " wine, for everyday human use. Jupiter was patron of the strongest, purest, sacrificial grade wine, and controlled the weather on which the autumn grape-harvest would depend. At this festival, men and women alike drank the new vintage of ordinary, non-sacral wine in honour of Venus, whose powers had provided humankind with this gift. Upper-class women gathered at Venus's Capitoline temple, where a libation of the previous year's vintage, sacred to Jupiter, was poured into a nearby ditch. This was almost certainly Venus' oldest festival and was associated with her earliest known form, Venus Obsequens. Kitchen gardens and market-gardens, and presumably vineyards were dedicated to her. Varro insists that the day was sacred to Jupiter, whose control of the weather governed the ripening of the grapes; but the sacrificial victim, a female lamb agna , may be evidence that it once belonged to Venus alone. Caesar dedicated the temple during his unprecedented and extraordinarily lavish quadruple triumph. At the same time, he was pontifex maximus and Rome's senior magistrate; the festival is thought to mark the unprecedented promotion of a personal, family cult to one of the Roman state. Caesar's heir, Augustus, made much of these personal and family associations with Venus as an Imperial deity. Imperial image of Venus suggesting influence from Syria or Palestine , or from the cult of Isis  Like other major Roman deities, Venus was given a number of epithets that referred to her different cult aspects, roles, and her functional similarities to other deities. Her "original powers seem to have been extended largely by the fondness of the Romans for folk-etymology, and by the prevalence of the religious idea nomen-omen which sanctioned any identifications made in this way. Servius speculates this as reference to a "Fountain of Acidalia" fons acidalia where the Graces Venus' daughters were said to bathe; but he also connects it to the Greek word for "arrow", whence "love's arrows" and love's "cares and pangs". Ovid uses acidalia only in the latter sense. It is likely a literary conceit, not a cultic epithet. Venus Caelestis is the earliest known Roman recipient of a taurobolium a form of bull sacrifice , performed at her shrine in Pozzuoli on 5 October This form of the goddess, and the taurobolium, are associated with the "Syrian Goddess", understood as a late equivalent to Astarte , or the Roman Magna Mater , the latter being another supposedly Trojan "Mother of the Romans"  Venus Calva "Venus the bald one" , a legendary form of Venus, attested only by post-Classical Roman writings which offer several traditions to explain this appearance and epithet. In one, it commemorates the virtuous offer by Roman matrons of their own hair to make bowstrings during a siege of Rome. In another, king Ancus Marcius ' wife and other Roman women lost their hair during an epidemic; in hope of its restoration, unafflicted women sacrificed their own hair to Venus. The shrine contained a statue of Venus, whose rites were probably meant to purify the culvert's polluted waters and noxious airs. A later temple, outside the Porta Collina and Rome's sacred boundary , may have preserved some Erycinian features of her cult. It was considered suitable for "common girls" and prostitutes. This epithet is also used for a specific sculpture at the Vatican Museums. Venus Genetrix "Venus the Mother" , as a goddess of motherhood and domesticity, with a festival on September 26, a personal ancestress of the Julian lineage and, more broadly, the divine ancestress of the Roman people. Venus Libertina "Venus the Freedwoman " , probably arising through the semantic similarity and cultural inks between libertina as "a free woman" and lubentina possibly meaning "pleasurable" or "passionate". Further titles or variants acquired by Venus through the same process, or through orthographic variance, include Libentia, Lubentina, and Lubentini. Venus Libitina links Venus to a patron-goddess of funerals and undertakers, Libitina ; a temple was dedicated to Venus Libitina in Libitina's grove on the Esquiline Hill , "hardly later than BC. Some sources associate her with the myrtle-tree. Christian writers described her as a goddess of sloth and laziness. It was supposedly funded by fines imposed on women found guilty of adultery. Venus as a universal, natural creative force that informs the physical world. She is addressed as "Alma Venus" "Mother Venus" by Lucretius in the introductory lines of his vivid, poetic exposition of Epicurean physics and philosophy, De Rerum Natura. She seems to have been a favourite of Lucretius' patron, Memmius. When Sulla captured Pompeii from the Samnites , he resettled it with his veterans and renamed it for his own family and divine protector Venus, as Colonia Veneria Cornelia for Sulla's claims of Venus' favour, see Venus Felix above. Venus Verticordia "Venus the Changer of Hearts". See Veneralia in this article and main article, Veneralia. Venus Victrix "Venus the Victorious" , a Romanised aspect of the armed Aphrodite that Greeks had inherited from the East, where the goddess Ishtar "remained a goddess of war, and Venus could bring victory to a Sulla or a Caesar. In 55 BC he dedicated a temple to her at the top of his theater in the Campus Martius. She had a shrine on the Capitoline Hill , and festivals on August 12 and October 9. A sacrifice was annually dedicated to her on the latter date. In neo-classical art, her epithet as Victrix is often used in the sense of 'Venus Victorious over men's hearts' or in the context of the Judgement of Paris e. Canova 's Venus Victrix , a half-nude reclining portrait of Pauline Bonaparte. Mythology and literature[ edit ] A Venus-Aphrodite velificans holding an infant, probably Aeneas,  as Anchises and Luna - Selene look on Roman-era relief from Aphrodisias Further information: Aphrodite Venus and Mars, with Cupid attending, in a wall painting from Pompeii As with most major gods and goddesses in Roman mythology , the literary concept of Venus is mantled in whole-cloth borrowings from the literary Greek mythology of her counterpart, Aphrodite. In some Latin mythology Cupid was the son of Venus and Mars , the god of war. At other times, or in parallel myths and theologies, Venus was understood to be the consort of Vulcan. Virgil , in compliment to his patron Augustus and the gens Julia , embellished an existing connection between Venus, whom Julius Caesar had adopted as his protectress, and Aeneas. Vergil's Aeneas is guided to Latium by Venus in her heavenly form, the morning star, shining brightly before him in the daylight sky; much later, she lifts Caesar's soul to heaven. Octavian's opponents, Antony , Cleopatra and the Egyptians, assisted by bizarre and unhelpful Egyptian deities such as "barking" Anubis , lose the battle. Classical art[ edit ] Venus riding a quadriga of elephants , fresco from Pompeii , 1st century AD Statue of nude Venus of the Capitoline type, Roman, 2nd century AD, from Campo Iemini, housed in the British Museum Roman and Hellenistic art produced many variations on the goddess, often based on the Praxitlean type Aphrodite of Cnidus. Many female nudes from this period of sculpture whose subjects are unknown are in modern art history conventionally called 'Venus'es, even if they originally may have portrayed a mortal woman rather than operated as a cult statue of the goddess.
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