ADONIS In Greek mythology, the beloved of APHRODITE and the personification of masculine beauty. His mother was the beautiful Myrrha or Smyrna); his father, King Cinyrus of Cyprus, who was the father of Myrrha. The strange parentage of Adonis came about because Aphrodite was jealous of Myrrha’s beauty and caused the girl to unite with her own father. When Cinyrus found out that he had been tricked, he chased Myrrha with a sword, intending to kill her and her unborn child. Aphrodite, repenting of her deed, quickly turned the girl into a myrrh tree. The king’s sword split the tree and out stepped the beautiful child Adonis. Aphrodite hid the baby in a box and gave it to PERSEPHONE, queen of death, to look after. Persephone reared Adonis in the UNDERWORLD. He grew to be a handsome young man, whereupon Aphrodite claimed him back. Persephone refused to give him up. Appealed to by the two goddesses, ZEUS decreed that each should have him for half of the year. When he stayed in the underworld, it was winter. When he returned, the Earth blossomed into spring and summer. In some versions of the story, when ARES hears that Aphrodite loves the youth Adonis, he changes himself into a wild boar and gores the boy to death. Anemones spring from the blood of Adonis and his spirit returns to the underworld. In response to the two tearful goddesses, Zeus determines that Adonis should stay with each of them in turn for half the year. According to scholars, the death and resurrection of Adonis represents the decay and revival of the plant year. He was worshiped as a corn god, a god of grain crops, which were much more important to the ancient inhabitants of the Mediterranean lands than the berries and roots of the wilderness that nourished their primitive, pre-agrarian ancestors.
Taken from : Greek and Roman Mythology A to Z, Revised Edition – Written by Kathleen N. Daly and Revised by Marian Rengel – Copyright © 2004, 1992 by Kathleen N. Daly
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