►Greek Mythology: “Aphrodite and Adonis”:
Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of beauty and love. She was born from the sea foam which was created from Uranus’ severed genitalia being thrown into the sea by Cronus.
She was married to Hephaestus (Greek God of Fire and Metalworking) so that the other gods would not fight over her. Still, she had several other lovers of which Ares, the god of war, and Adonis were the most relevant.
Adonis’s mother was Myrrha, the very beautiful daughter of king Cinyras.
Myrrha’s mother would say that she was even more beautiful than Aphrodite which angered the goddess who cursed Myrrha to fall in love and lust after her father.
She tricked him into sleeping with her and she became pregnant. When her father found out he had been tricked he was so angry that he tried to kill her but the gods took pity on her and turned her into a myrrh tree.
Even so, the goddess finally gave birth to her son. Aphrodite found the baby by a myrrh tree and she gave him to Persephone, the wife of Hades, who was the God of the Underworld.
When the child grew he became a very beautiful young man. He was named Adonis.
The dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus, the king of the gods: Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. He chose to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.
Ares, the god of war, grew jealous because Aphrodite spent so much time with Adonis that she had forgotten about him. As a result, Ares turned into a gigantic wild boar and attacked Adonis. Adonis, having forgotten Aphrodite’s warning, attacked the boar but soon found himself being chased by it.
On different versions of the myth, the boar is said to have been sent by Apollo, to punish Aphrodite for blinding his son, Erymanthus who was blinded by Aphrodite because he spied on her making love to Adonis. Or by Artemis, goddess of the haunt, who was jealous of Adonis’ hunting skills.
The boar did catch up to Adonis and castrated him.
Adonis died in Aphrodite’s arms, and she sprinkled his blood with nectar from the anemone. It is said to be Adonis’ blood that turns the Adonis River, or Abraham River, red each spring.
Aphrodite was so distraught that Zeus made Adonis immortal, allowing him to leave Hades, the underworld of the dead, for part of the year to be with Aphrodite.
He always, however, had to return to Hades, where he was Persephone’s lover.
This cycle of death and rebirth was linked with the regeneration of vegetation and the crop seasons in ancient Greece.
In essence the myth is about the perennial nature of beauty, as Adonis died only to be reborn in the underworld.
Originating in the Near East, the cult of Adonis was introduced to Athens in about 440 B.C.
Only women celebrated “Adonia”, a festival to mourn the death and resurrection of Adonis.
The festival was supposed to last two days. On the first day, Greek women observed all the rites customary at funerals. The second day was spent in merriment and feasting; because Adonis was allowed to return to life, and spend eight months of the year with Aphrodite (the other four with Persephone Queen of the Underworld).
The Greek women would also make “Adonis Gardens” by sowing quick-growing seeds into shallow trays or pots.