The Greek Gods, by Evslin, Evslin, & Hoopes.
Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty; so there are more stories told about her than anyone else, god or mortal....But all the tales agree that she is the goddess of desire, and, unlike other Olympians, is never distracted from her duties. Her work is her pleasure, her profession, her hobby. She thinks of nothing but love, and nobody expects more of her.
She was born....From the foam rose a tall beautiful maiden, naked and dripping. Waves attended her. Poseidon's white horses brought her to the island of Cythera. Wherever she stepped, the sand turned to grass and flowers bloomed. Then she went to Cyprus. Hillsides burst into flowers, and the air was full of birds.
Zeus brought her to Olympus. She was still dripping from the sea. She wore nothing but the bright tunic of her hair which fell below her knees and was yellow as daffodils. She looked about the great throne room where the gods were assembled to meet her, arched her throat and laughed with joy.
Hera was watching Zeus narrowly. "You must marry her off," she whispered. "At once - without delay!"
"Yes," said Zeus. "Some sort of marriage would seem to be indicated."
And he said, "Brothers, sons, cousins, Aphrodite is to be married. She will choose her own husband. So make your suit."
The gods closed around her, shouting promises, pressing their claims. Earth-shaking Poseidon swung his mighty trident to clear a space about himself. "I claim you for the sea," he said. "You are sea-born, foam-born, and belong to me. I offer you grottos, riddles, gems, fair surfaces, dark surroundings. I offer you variety. Drowned sailors, typhoons, sunsets. I offer you secrets. I offer you riches that the earth does not know - power more subtle, more fluid than the dull fixed land. Come with me - be queen of the sea."
He slammed his trident on the floor, and a huge green tidal wave swelled out of the sea - high, high as Olympus, curling its mighty green tongue as if to lick up the mountain - and poised there, quivering, not breaking, as the gods gaped. Then Poseidon raised his trident, and the mighty wave subsided like a ripple. He bowed to Aphrodite. She smiled at him, but said nothing.
Then the gods spoke in turn, offering her great gifts. Apollo offered her a throne and a crown made of hottest sun-gold, a golden chariot drawn by white swans, and the Muses for her handmaids. Hermes offered to make her queen of the crossways where all must come - where she would hear every story, see every traveler, know each deed - a rich pageant of adventure and gossip so that she would never grow bored.
She smiled at Apollo and Hermes and made no answer.
Then Hera, scowling, reached her long white arm and dragged Hephaestus, the lame smith-god, from where he had been hiding behind the others, ashamed to be seen. And she hissed into his ear, "Speak, fool. Say exactly what I told you to say."
He limped forward with great embarrassment, and stood before the radiant goddess, eyes cast down, not daring to look at her. He said: "I would make a good husband for a girl like you. I work late."
Aphrodite smiled. She said nothing, but put her finger under the chin of the grimy little smith, raised his face, leaned down, and kissed him on the lips.
That night they were married. And at the wedding party she finally spoke - whispering to each of her suitors - telling each one when he might come with his gift.