Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase B. Clow, PhD

First Reader

Gay Lynch, PhD


Kali and Aphrodite are archetypal goddess images that have stood the test of time because of their universal symbolism. Each represents aspects of human nature and of life itself. Although their representations may be particular to their cultural origins, the symbolic significance of these two goddesses can be recognized universally. For example, Aphrodite is the ancient Greek goddess of love, beauty, and sexuality. In artistic renderings of her myth, she is often depicted in the form of a beautiful young woman rising from the sea at her birth or bathing near water. On the other hand, Kali is a Hindu warrior goddess of destruction, but also one of rebirth. She is fierce, yet also seen as a loving mother to her devotees. In statues and paintings she is often depicted as a nude woman wearing a necklace of decapitated heads, and a skirt of human arms. Kali has inky-black or deep blue skin and multiple arms, which carry different symbolic items, such as a sword and trident. This paper serves as an introduction to my Senior Project, which will be artistic renderings of Aphrodite as she might appear in Hindu culture and Kali as she might appear in ancient Greek culture. In other words, Aphrodite will be depicted as a Hindu goddess, and Kali will be depicted as a goddess of the ancient Greek Pantheon. My investigation of the symbolic meaning and cultural translation of these two feminine archetypes will show that what is most particular is most universal.