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Adonis[a] was the mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite
Aphrodite
in Greek mythology. In Ovid's first-century AD telling of the myth, he was conceived after Aphrodite
Aphrodite
cursed his mother Myrrha
Myrrha
to lust after her own father, King Cinyras
Cinyras
of Cyprus. Myrrha
Myrrha
had sex with her father in complete darkness for nine nights, but he discovered her identity and chased her with a sword. The gods transformed her into a myrrh tree and, in the form of a tree, she gave birth to Adonis. Aphrodite
Aphrodite
found the infant and gave him to be raised by Persephone, the queen of the Underworld. Adonis
Adonis
grew into an astonishingly handsome young man, causing Aphrodite
Aphrodite
and Persephone
Persephone
to feud over him, with Zeus eventually decreeing that Adonis
Adonis
would spend one third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone, one third of the year with Aphrodite, and the final third of the year with whomever he chose. Adonis
Adonis
chose to spend his final third of the year with Aphrodite. One day, Adonis
Adonis
was gored by a wild boar during a hunting trip and died in Aphrodite's arms as she wept tears of sorrow. His blood mingled with her tears and became the anemone flower. Aphrodite declared the Adonia
Adonia
festival commemorating his tragic death, which was celebrated by women every year in midsummer. During this festival, Greek women would plant "gardens of Adonis", small pots containing fast-growing plants, which they would set on top of their houses in the hot sun. The plants would sprout, but soon wither and die. Then the women would mourn the death of Adonis, tearing their clothes and beating their breasts in a public display of grief. The Greeks considered Adonis's cult to be of Oriental origin. Adonis's name comes from a Canaanite word meaning "lord" and modern scholars consider the story of Aphrodite
Aphrodite
and Adonis
Adonis
to be derived from the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Inanna
Inanna
(Ishtar) and Dumuzid (Tammuz). In late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship of religion, Adonis
Adonis
was widely seen as a prime example of the archetypal dying-and-rising god, but the existence of the "dying-and-rising god" archetype has been largely rejected by modern scholars and its application to Adonis
Adonis
is undermined by the fact that no pre-Christian text ever describes Adonis
Adonis
as rising from the dead and the only possible references to his resurrection are late, ambiguous allusions made by Christian writers. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype.

Contents

1 Etymology and origin 2 Origin of the cult 3 Parentage and birth 4 Myth 5 Cult 6 Dying-and-rising god archetype 7 Cultural references 8 See also 9 Notes 10 References

10.1 Bibliography

Etymology and origin[edit] The Greek Ἄδωνις (Greek pronunciation: [ádɔːnis]), Adōnis was a borrowing from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning "lord",[1][2][3] which is related to Adonai (Hebrew: אֲדֹנָי‎), one of the titles used to refer to the God of the Hebrew Bible and still used in Judaism
Judaism
to the present day.[2] Syrian Adonis
Adonis
is Gauas[4] or Aos, akin to Egyptian Osiris, the Semitic Tammuz and Baal
Baal
Hadad, the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are associated with vegetation. Origin of the cult[edit]

An ancient Sumerian depiction of the marriage of Inanna
Inanna
and Dumuzid[5]

The myth of Aphrodite
Aphrodite
and Adonis
Adonis
is probably derived from the ancient Sumerian legend of Inanna
Inanna
and Dumuzid.[6][7][8] The Greek name Ἄδωνις (Adōnis, Greek pronunciation: [ádɔːnis]) is derived from the Canaanite word ʼadōn, meaning "lord".[9][8] The cult of Inanna
Inanna
and Dumuzid may have been introduced to the Kingdom of Judah during the reign of King Manasseh.[10] Ezekiel 8:14 mentions Adonis
Adonis
under his earlier East Semitic name Tammuz[11][12] and describes a group of women mourning Tammuz's death while sitting near the north gate of the Temple in Jerusalem.[11][12] The earliest known Greek reference to Adonis
Adonis
comes from a fragment of a poem by the Lesbian poetess Sappho, dating to the seventh century BC,[13] in which a chorus of young girls asks Aphrodite
Aphrodite
what they can do to mourn Adonis's death.[13] Aphrodite
Aphrodite
replies that they must beat their breasts and tear their tunics.[13] In Greek mythology, Adonis
Adonis
is from Phoenicia. He was born and died at the foot of the falls in the village of Afqa, located in the Jbeil District of the Mount Lebanon Governorate, 71 kilometres (44 mi) northeast of Beirut
Beirut
in modern-day Lebanon. The ruins of the celebrated temple of Aphrodite Aphakitis— the Aphrodite
Aphrodite
particular to this site— are located there. The cult of Adonis
Adonis
has also been described as corresponding to the cult of the Phoenician god Baal.[6] As Walter Burkert explains:

Women sit by the gate weeping for Tammuz, or they offer incense to Baal
Baal
on roof-tops and plant pleasant plants. These are the very features of the Adonis
Adonis
legend: which is celebrated on flat roof-tops on which sherds sown with quickly germinating green salading are placed, Adonis
Adonis
gardens... the climax is loud lamentation for the dead god.[14]

The exact date when the legend of Adonis
Adonis
became integrated into Greek culture is still disputed. Walter Burkert questions whether Adonis
Adonis
had not from the very beginning come to Greece with Aphrodite.[14] "In Greece," Burkert concludes, "the special function of the Adonis
Adonis
legend is as an opportunity for the unbridled expression of emotion in the strictly circumscribed life of women, in contrast to the rigid order of polis and family with the official women's festivals in honour of Demeter." Both Greek and Near Eastern scholars have questioned this connection.[14] Parentage and birth[edit]

Adonis, a naked Roman torso, restored and completed by François Duquesnoy, formerly in the collection of Cardinal Mazarin
Cardinal Mazarin
(Louvre Museum).

Adonis's birth is shrouded in confusion for those who require a single, authoritative version, for various peripheral stories circulated concerning Adonis' parentage. The most widely accepted version is recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses, where Adonis
Adonis
is the son of Myrrha
Myrrha
and her father Cinyras. Myrrha turned into a myrrh tree and Lucina helped the tree to give birth to Adonis.[15] The patriarchal Hellenes sought a father for the god, and found him in Byblos
Byblos
and Cyprus, which scholars take to indicate the direction from which Adonis
Adonis
had come to the Greeks. Pseudo-Apollodorus, (Bibliotheke, 3.182) considered Adonis
Adonis
to be the son of Cinyras, of Paphos
Paphos
on Cyprus, and Metharme. According to pseudo-Apollodorus' Bibliotheke, Hesiod, in an unknown work that does not survive, made of him the son of Phoenix and the otherwise unidentified Alphesiboea.[16] In Cyprus, the cult of Adonis
Adonis
gradually superseded that of Cinyras.[17] Hesiod
Hesiod
made him the son of Phoenix, eponym of the Phoenicians, thus a figure of Phoenician origin; his association with Cyprus
Cyprus
is not attested before the classical era. W. Atallah[18] suggests that the later Hellenistic myth of Adonis
Adonis
represents the conflation of two independent traditions. Alternatively the late source Bibliotheke calls him the son of Cinyras and Metharme. Another version of the myth is that Aphrodite
Aphrodite
compelled Myrrha
Myrrha
(or Smyrna) to commit incest with her father Theias, the king of Assyria. Fleeing his wrath, Myrrha
Myrrha
was turned into a myrrh tree. Theias struck the tree with an arrow, whereupon it burst open and Adonis
Adonis
emerged. Another version has a wild boar tear open the tree with its tusks, thus foreshadowing Adonis' death. The city Berytos (Beirut) in Lebanon
Lebanon
was named after the daughter of Adonis
Adonis
and Aphrodite, Beroe. Both Dionysus
Dionysus
and Poseidon
Poseidon
fell in love with her. She would eventually marry Poseidon.

Myth[edit]

The Adonis
Adonis
River (now known as the Abraham River) in Lebanon
Lebanon
was said to run red with blood each year during the festival of Adonis.[19]

While Sappho
Sappho
does not describe the myth of Adonis, later sources flesh out the details:[20] Adonis
Adonis
was the son of Myrrha, who was cursed by Aphrodite
Aphrodite
with insatiable lust for her own father, King Cinyras
Cinyras
of Cyprus,[21] after Myrrha's mother bragged that her daughter was more beautiful than the goddess.[21] Driven out after becoming pregnant, Myrrha
Myrrha
was changed into a myrrh tree, but still gave birth to Adonis.[22] Aphrodite
Aphrodite
found the baby,[19] and took him to the underworld to be fostered by Persephone.[19] She returned for him once he was grown[19] and discovered him to be strikingly handsome.[19] Persephone
Persephone
wanted to keep Adonis;[19] Zeus
Zeus
settled the dispute by decreeing that Adonis would spend one third of the year with Aphrodite, one third with Persephone, and one third with whomever he chose.[19] Adonis
Adonis
chose Aphrodite, and they remained constantly together.[19] Then, one day while Adonis
Adonis
was out hunting, he was wounded by a wild boar, and bled to death in Aphrodite's arms.[19] In different versions of the story, the boar was either sent by Ares, who was jealous that Aphrodite
Aphrodite
was spending so much time with Adonis,[23] by Artemis, who wanted revenge against Aphrodite
Aphrodite
for having killed her devoted follower Hippolytus,[23] or by Apollo, to punish Aphrodite
Aphrodite
for blinding his son Erymanthus.[24] The story also provides an etiology for Aphrodite's associations with certain flowers.[23] Reportedly, as she mourned Adonis's death, she caused anemones to grow wherever his blood fell,[19][23] and declared a festival on the anniversary of his death.[19] In one version of the story, Aphrodite
Aphrodite
injured herself on a thorn from a rose bush[23] and the rose, which had previously been white, was stained red by her blood.[23] According to Lucian's De Dea Syria,[25] each year during the festival of Adonis, the Adonis
Adonis
River in Lebanon
Lebanon
(now known as the Abraham River) ran red with blood.[19]

Cult[edit]

Fragment of an Attic red-figure wedding vase (c. 430-420 BC), showing women climbing ladders up to the roofs of their houses carrying "gardens of Adonis"

Main article: Adonia The myth of Adonis
Adonis
is associated with the festival of the Adonia, which was celebrated by Greek women every year in midsummer.[8][26] The festival, which was evidently already celebrated in Lesbos
Lesbos
by Sappho's time,[8] seems to have first become popular in Athens in the mid-fifth century BC.[8] At the start of the festival, the women would plant a "garden of Adonis",[8] a small garden planted inside a small basket or a shallow piece of broken pottery containing a variety of quick-growing plants, such as lettuce and fennel, or even quick-sprouting grains such as wheat and barley.[8][27] The women would then climb ladders to the roofs of their houses,[8] where they would place the gardens out under the heat of the summer sun.[8] The plants would sprout in the sunlight,[8] but wither quickly in the heat.[28] Then the women would mourn and lament loudly over the death of Adonis,[29] tearing their clothes and beating their breasts in a public display of grief.[29] The third century BC poet Euphorion of Chalcis remarked in his Hyacinth that "Only Cocytus
Cocytus
washed the wounds of Adonis".[30] Dying-and-rising god archetype[edit]

Photograph of Sir James George Frazer, the anthropologist who is most directly responsible for promoting the concept of a "dying and rising god" archetype[31][32][33]

Main article: Dying-and-rising deity The late nineteenth-century Scottish anthropologist Sir James George Frazer wrote extensively about Adonis
Adonis
in his monumental study of comparative religion The Golden Bough
The Golden Bough
(the first edition of which was published in 1890)[31][34] as well as in later works.[35] Frazer claimed that Adonis
Adonis
was just one example of the archetype of a "dying-and-rising god" found throughout all cultures.[32][31][36] Frazer's main intention was to prove that all religions were fundamentally the same[37] and that all the essential features of Christianity could be found in earlier religions.[38] Frazer's arguments were criticized as sloppy and amateurish from the beginning,[32] but his claims became widely influential in late nineteenth and early twentieth century scholarship of religion.[32][33][31] In the mid-twentieth century, scholars began to severely criticize the designation of "dying-and-rising god".[35][39][40] In 1987, Jonathan Z. Smith concluded in Mircea Eliade's Encyclopedia of Religion that "The category of dying and rising gods, once a major topic of scholarly investigation, must now be understood to have been largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts."[39][41] He further argued that the deities previously referred to as "dying-and-rising" would be better termed separately as "dying gods" and "disappearing gods",[39][40] asserting that before Christianity, the two categories were distinct and gods who "died" did not return, and those who returned never truly "died".[39][40] By the end of the twentieth century, most scholars had come to agree that the notion of a "dying-and-rising god" was an invention[42][33][43] and that the term was not a useful scholarly designation.[42][33][43] The foremost problem with the application of the label "dying-and-rising god" to Adonis
Adonis
is the fact that he is never described as rising from the dead in any extant Graeco-Roman writings[41] and the only possible allusions to his supposed resurrection come from late, highly ambiguous statements made by Christian authors.[41][b] The part of Adonis's myth in which he spends a third of the year in the Underworld with Persephone
Persephone
is not a death and resurrection,[41] but merely an instance of a living person staying in the Underworld.[41] Cultural references[edit] In relatively modern times, the myth of Adonis
Adonis
has featured prominently in a variety of cultural and artistic works. Giovan Battista Marino's masterpiece, Adone, published in 1623, is a long, sensual poem, which elaborates the myth of Adonis, and represents the transition in Italian literature
Italian literature
from Mannerism
Mannerism
to the Baroque. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the poem Adonais
Adonais
for John Keats, and uses the myth as an extended metaphor for Keats' death. Such allusions continue today. Adonis
Adonis
(an Arabic transliteration of the same name, أدونيس) is the pen name of a famous Syrian poet, Ali Ahmad Said Asbar. His choice of name relates especially to the rebirth element of the myth of Adonis
Adonis
(also called "Tammuz" in Arabic), which was an important theme in mid-20th century Arabic poetry, chiefly amongst followers of the "Free Verse" (الشعر الحر) movement founded by Iraqi poet Badr Shakir al-Sayyab.[citation needed] Adunis
Adunis
has used the myth of his namesake in many of his poems, for example in "Wave I", from his most recent book "Start of the Body, End of the Sea" (Saqi, 2002), which includes a complete retelling of the birth of the god.[clarification needed]

Venus and Adonis
Adonis
(c. 1595) by Annibale Carracci

Venus and Cupid lamenting the dead Adonis
Adonis
(1656) by Cornelis Holsteyn

Death of Adonis
Adonis
(1684-1686) by Luca Giordano.

The Death of Adonis
Adonis
(1709) by Giuseppe Mazzuoli

Venus and Adonis
Adonis
(1792) by François Lemoyne

See also[edit]

Mythology portal Ancient Near East
Ancient Near East
portal

Adonia, feasts celebrating Adonis Adonism Apheca Myrrha, mother of Adonis
Adonis
per Greek mythology Adonis
Adonis
belt

Psychology:

Muscle dysmorphia, as part of Adonis
Adonis
Complex Theorizing about Myth, a Jungian
Jungian
interpretation of the Adonis
Adonis
myth by R. Segal

Notes[edit]

^ /əˈdɒnɪs, əˈdoʊnɪs/; Greek: Ἄδωνις ^ Origen
Origen
discusses Adonis, (whom he associates with Tammuz), in his Selecta in Ezechielem ( “Comments on Ezekiel”), noting that "they say that for a long time certain rites of initiation are conducted: first, that they weep for him, since he has died; second, that they rejoice for him because he has risen from the dead (apo nekrôn anastanti)" (cf. J.-P. Migne, Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca, 13:800).

References[edit]

^ W. Burkert (1985), Greek Religion, pp. 176–77. ^ a b Botterweck, G. Johannes; Ringgren, Helmer, eds. (1974). Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament. Vol. 1 (reprint, revised ed.). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. pp. 59–74. ISBN 9780802823380.  ^ West, M. L. (1997). The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. p. 57. ISBN 0-19-815221-3. Retrieved 30 May 2017.  ^ Detienne, Marcel (1994). The Gardens of Adonis: Spices in Greek Mythology, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-00104-3 (p.137) ^ Lung 2014. ^ a b West 1997, p. 57. ^ Kerényi 1951, p. 67. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cyrino 2010, p. 97. ^ Burkert 1985, pp. 176–177. ^ Pryke 2017, p. 193. ^ a b Pryke 2017, p. 195. ^ a b Warner 2016, p. 211. ^ a b c West 1997, pp. 530–531. ^ a b c Burkert 1985, p. 117. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses
Metamorphoses
X, 298–518 ^ Ps.-Apollodorus, iii.14.4.1. ^ Atallah 1966 ^ Atallah 1966. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Kerényi 1951, p. 76. ^ Cyrino 2010, p. 95. ^ a b Kerényi 1951, p. 75. ^ Kerényi 1951, pp. 75=76. ^ a b c d e f Cyrino 2010, p. 96. ^ According to Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42.1f. Servius
Servius
on Virgil's Eclogues x.18; Orphic Hymn lv.10; Ptolemy Hephaestionos, i.306u, all noted by Graves. Atallah (1966) fails to find any cultic or cultural connection with the boar, which he sees simply as a heroic myth-element. ^ Kerényi 1951, p. 279. ^ W. Atallah, Adonis
Adonis
dans la littérature et l'art grecs, Paris, 1966. ^ Detienne 1972. ^ Cyrino 2010, pp. 97–98. ^ a b Cyrino 2010, p. 98. ^ Remarked upon in passing by Photius, Biblioteca 190 (on-line translation). ^ a b c d Ehrman 2012, pp. 222–223. ^ a b c d Barstad 1984, p. 149. ^ a b c d Eddy & Boyd 2007, pp. 142–143. ^ Mettinger 2004, p. 375. ^ a b Barstad 1984, pp. 149–150. ^ Eddy & Boyd 2007, pp. 140–142. ^ Ehrman 2012, p. 222. ^ Barstad 1984, p. 150. ^ a b c d Smith 1987, pp. 521–527. ^ a b c Mettinger 2004, p. 374. ^ a b c d e Eddy & Boyd 2007, p. 143. ^ a b Ehrman 2012, p. 223. ^ a b Mettinger 2004, pp. 374-375.

Bibliography[edit]

Barstad, Hans M. (1984), The Religious Polemics of Amos: Studies in the Preaching of Am 2, 7B-8; 4,1-13; 5,1-27; 6,4-7; 8,14, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, ISBN 9789004070172  Burkert, Walter (1985), Greek Religion, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, ISBN 0-674-36281-0  Cyrino, Monica S. (2010), Aphrodite, Gods and Heroes of the Ancient World, New York City, New York and London, England: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-77523-6  Detienne, Marcel, 1972. Les jardins d'Adonis, translated by Janet Lloyd, 1977. The Gardens of Adonis, Harvester Press. Eddy, Paul Rhodes; Boyd, Gregory A. (2007), The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, ISBN 978-0801031144  Mettinger, Tryggve N. D. (2004), "The "Dying and Rising God": A Survey of Research from Frazer to the Present Day", in Batto, Bernard F.; Roberts, Kathryn L., David and Zion: Biblical Studies in Honor of J.J.M. Roberts, Winona Lake, Indiana: Eisenbrauns, ISBN 1-57506-092-2  Ehrman, Bart D. (2012), Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, New York City, new York: HarperCollins, ISBN 978-0-06-220644-2  Smith, Jonathan Z. (1987), "Dying and Rising Gods", in Eliade, Mircea, The Encyclopedia of Religion, IV, London, England: Macmillan, pp. 521–527, ISBN 0029097002  Kerényi, Karl (1951), The Gods of the Greeks, London, England: Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-500-27048-1  Lung, Tang (2014), "Marriage of Inanna
Inanna
and Dumuzi", Ancient History Encyclopedia, Ancient History Encyclopedia  Mahony, Patrick J. An Analysis of Shelley's Craftsmanship in Adonais. Rice University, 1964. O'Brian, Patrick. "Post Captain." Aubrey/Maturin series. W.W. Norton, pg. 198. 1994. Thiollet, Jean-Pierre, 2005. Je m'appelle Byblos, H & D, p. 71-80. Pryke, Louise M. (2017), Ishtar, New York and London: Routledge, ISBN 978-1-138--86073-5  West, M. L. (1997), The East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Elements in Greek Poetry and Myth, Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, p. 57, ISBN 0-19-815221-3 

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WorldCat Identities LCCN: no2014051

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