Venus was the Roman name for the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality. Her Greek equivalent was Aphrodite. She was said to have been born from the sea, rising up from the foam which breaks on the surface. There were many temples and cults dedicated to her, and Julius Caesar even claimed to be one of her descendents. She has been a constant muse to artists and sculptors throughout the centuries, in part because for a long time she was one of the only female figures it was permissable to depict nude. This allowed the freedom of meditation on aspects of female beauty and sexuality that otherwise were not granted a space. The philosopher Plato argued that consideration of Venus' physical loveliness could inspire mortals to transcend earthly matters, and comprehend the beauty of spirituality.
Both goddesses are frequently referred to in literature; Shakespeare in particular made many allusions to Classical culture.