Hyacinthus In Greek mythology, a young man loved by Apollo; son of Amyclas and Diomedes of Pierus and the Muse Clio. Hyacinthus was killed out of jealousy by Zephyrus, the West Wind, with a discus. Apollo created a flower named in Hyacinthus’s honor with Apollo’s cries of grief, “Ai, Ai,” etched on its petals. Varieties of flowers identified with Hyacinthus are the hyacinth, iris, and gladiolus. The hyacinth has come to stand for mourning. Milton’s Lycidas (106) calls it “that sanguine flower inscrib’d with woe.” Originally, Hyacinthus was a pre-Hellenic god whose worship was absorbed by Apollo’s cult. A three-day festival, the Hyacinthia, was held at Sparta in honor of the god, who was worshipped at Amyclae in Laconia. On the first day of the festival a sacrifice to the dead was offered at the grave of Hyacinthus, which was under a statue of Apollo in the temple. The following day the people rejoiced. Boys and girls, accompanied by flutes and harps, went to the temple of Apollo, where games, competitions, sacrifices, and entertainments took place. A robe woven by Spartan women was offered to Apollo. Pausanias’s Descriptions of Greece records a statue of Hyacinthus that portrayed the god with a beard. The myth of Apollo and Hyacinthus is told in Ovid’s Metamorphoses (book 10). One of Mozart’s earliest works, Apollo et Hyacinthus, is set to a Latin text.


Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Third Edition – Written by Anthony S. Mercatante & James R. Dow
Copyright © 2009 by Anthony S. Mercatante

Hyacinth is divine patron of gay lovers. Hyacinth is described as the youngest and most beautiful son of a Spartan king. Both Apollo and Zephyr fell in love with him, but Hyacinth chose Apollo. (The Muse Erato lusted and competed for Hyacinth, too.) Zephyr came upon the two playing a game of discus and in a blindingly jealous rage killed Hyacinth. Grief-stricken Apollo caused a plant to spring from Hyacinth’s spilled blood. This plant may or may not be the modern flower known as hyacinth, although it was called “hyacinthos.” Hyacinth was arrested at an eternally youthful stage. He is a spirit of joy, vigor, Earth’s agricultural abundance, and musical skill.

The hyacinthos plant was used to delay male puberty, prolonging adolescence. It was a favourite of Greek slave traders, as adolescent hoys were particularly valuable and brought a high price.

In life, Apollo tutored Hyacinth in sports, divination, and music. In death, Hyacinth transmitted this wisdom to people. He is the conduit to Apollo’s knowledge. A large statue of Apollo stood before Hyacinth’s tomb. The two deities are venerated together. At the annual Hyacinthus festival honouring Hyacinth as a deity, he naturally received the first offerings. The next offerings were made to Apollo. His festival was not exclusively male: girls and women also played significant roles. Hyacinth is also venerated alongside his sister, Polyboea.


Gay lovers seeking happy romance, musicians


A musical instrument: lyre or cithara


Fruits, vegetables, flowers, cooked pork, and fava beans


  • Apollo
  • Harpies
  • Muse
  • Polyboea
  • Zephyr


Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.