Two Births on the Island of Cyprus
The legend tells that Aphrodite was born out of the foam of the waves on the coast of Cyprus. Her father was Uranus, the primal Greek god personifying the sky.
Aphrodite is well-known for her beauty, and she has also been called “goddess of love”. The Romans knew her as Venus.
Her birth-place is called Petra tou Romiou, or Aphrodite’s Rock, and is situated between Limassol and Paphos.
King Cinyras of Paphos was the ancestor of the priestly kings of Cyprus, and many stories are told about him. This is one:
King Cinyras was fabulously rich and lived in a beautiful palace with a wonderful garden filled with the most exquisite looking and smelling flowers.
The flowers were harvested by specially selected, beautiful virgins, and from the harvest exclusive fragrances were made by highly regarded perfumers. Famous artists were engaged to make the most beautiful jars to contain the precious perfumes.
King Cinyras is said to have been famed for his exquisite beauty himself, and therefore to have been wooed by Aphrodite.
Once a year Aphrodite visited king Cinyras. During this visit she was always given the best perfume in the most beautiful jar as a gift.
One year the gift was to be given to her by a handsome youth. As he saw Aphrodite he was so overwhelmed that he slipped the precious gift. The jar shattered into a million pieces and the perfume disappeared into the ground only leaving the fragrance for a short while before it was taken away by the wind.
The youth was terrified, lost his consciousness, and fell into the broken jar, cutting himself blood spurting.
King Cinyras, watching the event, went furious and lifted his sword to kill the unconscious bleeding youth.
To save him Aphrodite stood up in front of the poor boy, protecting him with her own body.
When she turned around to see to him she saw that the youth had transformed into a fragrant herb – origanum vulgaris. The smell filled her nostrils, and carefully she lifted the newborn herb into her arms and floated through the air all the way to the home of the goods, Mount Olympus. There she planted oregano in a mountain crack.
Oregano “the mountain joy” was born this day. Aphrodite never returned to visit king Cinyras.