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Adonis was the deity of plants and rebirth.

He is known as a god who was for ever youthful, the one who
would live and die only to be reborn again. This cycle is repeated along time, without end. The cult of
Adonis comprised of women, as it is evident from the 2,600-year-old remains found on the island of
Lesvos. The Athenian women planted the "gardens of Adonis" where the seeds would spring to life and
then die to be reborn a few months later. The Festival of Adonis was celebrated in mid-summer when
fennel and lettuce were harvested. Unfortunately, these plants would wither very quickly and the women
would mourn their decline as the death of the youthful Adonis. Want to discover more myths? View all
Myths | Next myth: Phaethon and the Sun Chariot Discover the myth of Adonis and Aphrodite The
incestuous birth of Adonis It is said that Adonis was born of the illicit union between King Theias of
Smyrna and his daughter Myrrha. Urged on by Aphrodite herself, the goddess of beauty, love and sexual
desire, who had been offended when King Theias forgot to make a sacrifice for her, Myrrha had made
amorous advances towards her father but he was successfully keeping her away. One night, she
managed to lure her father out into the open and there under cover of darkness she laid with him. As
dawn broke, Theias discovered to his utter disgust the deception of his daughter and with sword in hand
chased her into the wild, wanting to punish her for her audacity. Sensing Myrrha's necessity, Aphrodite
transformed her into a tree, the myrrh tree. Still in anger, Theias shot an arrow into the tree trunk, splitting
it wide open and it was from there that Adonis was born, the child of an awful union between a father and
his daughter. Raised up by two mothers Baby Adonis was adorable beyond words and since there was no
one to look after him, Aphrodite took him under her wing. So obsessed was she with him that she began
neglecting her duties as a goddess. As a remedial measure, she sent the child to be looked after by
Persephone, the Queen of the Dead in the Underworld. It was also a move to keep him away from
interfering eyes. However, Persephone, too, fell dearly in love with Adonis and refused to give him up
when Aphrodite came for him. There was a bitter argument and Zeus had to intervene to prevent a
disastrous argument between the two. He decided that every year Adonis would spend 4 months first with
Persephone, the next 4 months with Aphrodite and the last 4 months he would be left alone, so that he
may learn to look after himself. The death Adonis grew up to be a very handsome young man and one
look at him could make every woman's heart excited with desire. That excited was also the heart of
goddess Aphodite, who was extremely charmed at this young man. Adonis loved the great outdoors and
was a master of the hunt. Once, when Aphrodite was to go away for a few days, she warned Adonis not to
stray too far into the forest while hunting. At the same time, she told him to stay away from any beast that
did not run away from him. However, the heart of young Adonis was audacious and neglecting Aphrodite's
warning he plunged deep into the forest. There he came upon a wild boar and, no matter how much he
tried, he could not scare it away. The boar, angered, attacked Adonis and with one massive heave of its
head pierced the young man with its tusk. It is said that the boar which killed Adonis was no ordinary
beast but the god Ares, who was one of Aphrodite's many lovers. Jealous of her passion for Adonis, Ares,
disguised himself in the form of a boar and attacked the young man. Hearing the screams of his beloved
Adonis, Aphrodite immediately headed for the forest, where she found him breathing his last. Kneeling by
his side, she sprinkled nectar over the wound and to ease his pain she sang gently to him. A smile
caressed Adonis' countenance, as he silently passed away into the Realm of the Dead. The nectar that
Aphrodite sprinkled on Adonis' wound had turned the droplets of his blood into beautiful red anemones,
while the rest of his blood flowed, becoming the river Adonis, which is today known as the river Nahr
Ibrahim in coastal Lebanon. Persephone greeted Adonis with arms wide open as he entered the
underworld and her delight knew no bounds. At the same time, Aphrodite, knowing that her Adonis must
be in the clutches of Persephone, rushed to the underworld to bring him back. Once again, Zeus had to
intervene and stop the women from quarrelling over who would have rightful possession of Adonis. With
great patience he told them that henceforth, Adonis would spend half the year with Aphrodite and the
other half with Persephone. This last aspect may symbolize the life of a man, who spends half his life with
his mother and half his life with his wife.