The mosaic of Aphrodite. This mosaic is signed by Z˘simos of Samosata (Z˘simos Samosateus epoiei = Z˘simos of Samosata made [it]), and the fish-tailed centaurs supporting Aphrodite's cockleshell are identified as Aphros ("Foam") and Bythos ("the Deep").
From the Enc. Britt.: ancient Greek goddess of sexual love and beauty, identified by the Romans with Venus. Because the Greek word aphros means "foam," the legend arose that Aphrodite was born from the white foam produced by the severed genitals of Uranus (Heaven), after his son Cronus threw them into the sea. Aphrodite was, in fact, widely worshiped as a goddess of the sea and of seafaring; she was also honoured as a goddess of war, especially at Sparta, Thebes, Cyprus, and other places. Aphrodite was, however, primarily a goddess of love and fertility and even occasionally presided over marriage. Although prostitutes considered Aphrodite their patron, her public cult was generally solemn and even austere.
Many scholars believe Aphrodite's worship came to Greece from the East, and many of her characteristics must be considered Semitic. Although Homer called her "Cyprian" after the island chiefly famed for her worship, she was already Hellenized by the time of Homer, and, according to Homer, she was the daughter of Zeus and Dione, his consort at Dodona. In the Odyssey, Aphrodite was mismatched with Hephaestus, the lame smith god, and she consequently spent her time philandering with the handsome god of war, Ares (by whom she became the mother of Harmonia).