As the Greek love goddess, most people don’t think of Aphrodite as a villain. That’s why I chose her for my villain in Daughter of Night. She’s actually a much more complicated, powerful goddess then the classical Greek writers would have us think.
The silly, vain Aphrodite that appears in stories written by the classical Greek writers is not a true rendering of this once Great Goddess that was revered on Cyprus. She is comparable to Innana, Hathor, Anat and Ishtar, a love and war goddess. As a fertility goddess, she is a goddess that can give life or take it away. Love and war, life and death. Ancient fertility rites usually involved a human sacrifice, a young man. The tragic story of Adonis, the young shepherd she loved, is associated with the Isis/Osiris legend of Egypt in which the yearly king is sacrificed at the end of his reign.
When the followers of the Sky god (Zeus) invaded Greece, they diminished her status to one of Zeus’s children, but she was really a Titan. Another story of her birth is that she was born when Cronos castrated his father Uranus, but she was really a much older, much more powerful goddess.
I liken her to the Norse god Loki, a bit of a trickster. As my villain, she isn’t evil but she is unpredictable and that’s what makes her so dangerous. My favorite villains are those that aren’t clearly evil, that aren’t intentional about hurting anyone. And as a love and war goddess, Aphrodite fit that profile. In Daughter of Night, Aphrodite is masquerading as the Hittite/Hatti Sun goddess, Arinna. She is trying to find her place in the world again after Zeus and his brothers have taken control of the Heavens, their armies controlling most of Greece. Of course, by trying to gain back her power, she is causing trouble for the other Titans, and mortals.
Excerpt from Daughter of Night, historical fantasy romance, Greek Mythology (Rated PG)
“Well, Prince Callileon,” Arinna said with a forced smile, “this is a pleasant surprise.”
He looked at her, grim-faced. “Do not placate me with false sincerity.”
“Perhaps it is time we made peace with one another. I am in a giving mood today.”
“I need a favor from you.” He fidgeted, obviously embarrassed at having to ask her for a favor.
“I am in a giving mood, but why would I grant you a favor?” She arched her brow, enjoying his discomfort.
The lion let out another gentle roar, settling his hungry gaze on Callileon.
Callileon looked at the lion, unblinking.
“You should never stare down a beast such as this. Fortunate for you I just fed him,” she laughed, her tone mocking.
“I am prepared to offer you something in exchange for the favor.”
“What could you possibly offer me? Look around, I am in need of nothing.” She gestured at her lavish quarters.
“It is not a question of need, but one of desire.” His blue eyes gleamed with cleverness.
No wonder Becuille was so enamored of this mortal, she thought with a hint of envy. He had special gifts. Not only was he handsome, but he also possessed bravery and intelligence.
From within his cloak, he pulled out a sheathed dagger. By the glittering stones on the bronze hilt, she already knew it to be a magical weapon. Unsheathing it, he held up the obsidian blade, smooth and gleaming with power. Her breath caught in her throat.
The lion let out a louder roar.
He raised a brow. “You know what this is, do you not?”
She tried to reach for the dagger, but he held it out of her reach. “First you help me get into the temple to see Inaras, then the dagger is yours.”
“You are a prince, you should be able to get into the temple on your own.” She could not take her eyes off the dagger, knowing its purpose to be to house Celmis's soul. With the special dagger in her possession, she could take him anywhere hidden in different bodies.
“No. Zagros will not allow any non-temple personnel to see her, even me.” Anger filled his eyes. “The king is concerned with other matters so I cannot appeal to him. I need to see her now and he cannot bar you entry to the temple. You are temple personnel.”
“Much to his dismay, that is true.” She wanted the dagger. “I will get you into the temple.” Her thoughts turned over, scheming and filled with mischief. She called for Briena. “Find a dress that will fit the prince.”
He gave her a questioning look.
“If you want into the temple, you will have to disguise yourself as a female,” she said, unable to hide her smirk.
“You are enjoying this too much I think.” He looked down at himself. “I doubt I will make a convincing female.”
“Oh, you would be surprised, my young prince,” she laughed.
Briena stuffed his muscled body into the largest dress she could find, placing two round apples over his chest for breasts. The slave girl stifled a laugh and Callileon stared hard at her. She put red ochre on his lips and cheeks and rimmed his eyes with kohl.
The young prince twitched beneath the sharp reed, drawing an amused smile from Arinna. The barbaric Achaean would not be familiar with the kohl reed.
“Do not move or you will lose your eye,” Briena said with caution, dipping the reed into the jar to gather more of the black powder to finish his eyes.
He moved his hand up toward his eyes.
“Do not touch your eyes,” Briena said.
“They burn,” he said, frowning.
“The feeling will go away.”
Arinna studied him with a critical eye. “Well, he is not the most graceful female I have seen, but he is quite comely.” She smiled with amusement.
Briena stifled a laugh behind her hand.
Glowering, he pulled on a hooded cloak, drawing the hood over his face.
Daughter of Night: Two mortals are caught up in the battle between the Titans and Olympian gods.
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Kelley Heckart, Historical fantasy romance author