From the Archives: Greek Mythology edition continues. When last seen, Aphrodite was happily committing adultery with handsome hunter Mataios…
Hephaestus was working in his forge, making a golden crown for Aphrodite, his wife. Hera entered the forge and gave him a note:
Your beloved Aphrodite is in love with a mortal man, Mataios. She wants him as a lover and has taken him to Cytherea, where she thinks her new lover will escape your notice.
Hephaestus raged. Aphrodite had another lover! And he was her husband! It could not be allowed. To punish Mataios he changed his looks and personality. Gone was the handsome, charming young hunter. In his place was a skinny, unskilled unattractive boy who would trip over his own feet as soon as look at them.
When Aphrodite saw this, she suspected something was afoot. Unfortunately when Mataios lost his beauty, she lost her love for Mataios, and she abandoned him on her island, Cytherea. Before leaving, however, she changed his name from Mataios to Aniaros, which means “drab”.
Aniaros wandered around the Island, lost and forlorn. He roamed through deserts and plains, woods and meadows, and finally stopped by a spring. He sat beside the spring and stared sadly at his reflection in the water. After taking a drink, he sent up a prayer to Aphrodite: “Oh, Beautiful, Golden Goddess, I implore you to love me again.” Then, sadly, “If you cannot bring yourself to love one so plain, at least do not turn your face from me. Do not ignore me, I beg of you, whether you love me or not!”
Aphrodite heard his prayers and felt pity for him. She didn’t love him, but she did feel kindness toward him and searched the earth for a maiden he could marry.
Hera had also heard his prayer, and, in the shape of a young princess, went to him. “I will love you now, Aniaros, and I will restore you to your former beauty. Not only that but you will be called Oraios, Handsome.” Aniaros was stunned. How could he possibly refuse this beautiful maiden? He stared at her in rapture. Hera smiled. She knew she had won his heart. “ Oraios,” she said, “this is not my true form. I am Hera, queen of the immortals.”
“What does it matter? You are even more beautiful and majestic in your true form, my queen.” He was hopelessly in love.
- …Why would Hera come to the forge herself and then give Hephaestus a note?? That makes no sense, child-self.
- So-o, we come to the first transformation. Metamorphosis is a common trope in Greek mythology.
- The name-changing might not be so common; don’t remember.
- Not really sure why I felt the need to include Aniaros taking a drink.
- I added a few paragraph breaks, since the original version has a big blob from “Hephaestus raged” all the way down to “Hera also”