Publication Date


Document Type



Many cultures make fundamental claims about the nature of humanity through myths. In this review, we examine the stories surrounding what we term “love goddesses” around the world from roughly 1000 BC to 1000 AD. We analyze the themes present in each story, as well as the norms upheld about the essential nature and roles of women through these myths. Love goddesses are typically exemplars of a given culture’s ideal of femininity, with exceptions such as Xochipilli, who has a more difficult-to-define identity. We are looking at the contemporaneous cults that surround Rati, Aphrodite/Venus, Hathor, Freyja/Frigg, Oshun, Inanna/Ishtar, and Xochipilli in order to understand what role these love goddesses play in their respective mythologies. What are their similarities and differences? How do these goddesses reflect their respective contemporaneous society’s ideals of women? While these goddesses may have similar roles in sexuality and power, it is important to note that there is no shared origin between these goddesses and their relationship with love, nor is there a common type of link between these goddesses and their respective culture’s view of women.



Download Full Text (585 KB)

The Role of “Love Goddesses” and What They Reveal About Women in Different Cultures