Prince of Love and Beaut


Previous Page
The Temple of Adonis

Perhaps one of the most complicated characters of classical mythology, Adonis' [ah-dahn-ihs / ah-doh-nihs] importance in the religions of the ancient world is often over looked underrated today.  Though his origins are some what conflicting his role in the ancient world is reasonably clear for anyone making the effort to research him.   Some scholars give him more importance than others in the ancient religions of Greece.  We know he was very prominent in the mystery religions as a cyclic rejuvenatory divinity much like Dionysius [die-oh-nie-sihs / die-ahn-ih-sihs] (Bacchus [bah-kuhs / back-uhs] or Liber [lee-ber / lee-bare] to the Romans)  He was a calendar deity depicting the cycle of birth, growth, death and rejuvenation thus he is depicted as ever young and beautiful.  He correlates to the lad aspect of the masculine trinity of Lad, Lord/Father and Elder.  He appears a a beautiful, naked and perfect youth occasionally carrying a lyre.  The river Adonis [Nahr Ibrahim] is sacred to him probably because it's water run red during the rainy season from ferrous oxide being washed into the river.  

His cults were centred primarily around Berytus and Aphaca though likely worshipped throughout the Phoenician and Syrian cultures to varying extents from circa 200 B.C.E. through 400 C.E..  His holy day was the Adonia [ah-doh-nee-ah / ah-dahn-ee-ah] was celebrated throughout Greece, Phoenicia and Aegypt on July 19th and lasted for 16 days.  Some sources suggest the Adonia was held twice a year once as his wedding to Aphrodite [af-roh-die-tee] (Venus [vee-nuhs / vee-nihs] to the Romans) and the other commemorating the death of Adonis marking his return from and return to the underworld, respectfully applied.  Still another source suggests three Adonias per year.  The first honoring his birth and return from the underworld, his second the marriage to Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) and the latter his death and return to the underworld.  During this holiday, garbed in effeminate attire, priests slashed themselves with knives as a reenactment of Adonis' slaying.  In Athens women, particularly of questionable character, planted quick growing gardens called "Gardens of Adonis" in baskets which, like their namesake quickly sprung up only to wither and fade away in eight days they were thrown into the ocean or streams with other symbols of the dead God.  The phrase, "Gardens of Adonis," has come to mean anything short lived, especially disposable, superficial, immature or lightweight but may have initially meant more as this Greek saying suggests, "You are more sterile than the gardens of Adonis (Είστε πιό αποστειρωμένοι από τους κήπους Adonis)."   Loose and jaded women especially burned incense, performed sexual acts on rooftops, danced, feasted, singing, etc.,  Vases are found that depict women carrying their Gardens of Adonis up to rooftops.  Through this means was he mourned and remembered during his time in the underworld.  But the high point was an dramatization of the wedding between Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) and her occasionally reluctant consort.  This day is also considered to mark his return from the underworld and his wedding anniversary with Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).  Like most dying and resurrecting Gods Adonis may be venerated on Decembre 25th as well.  There are few ancient inscriptions about this god which have survived if they ever existed but he is venerated in many art forms and literary works throughout history.

The name Adonis, has come to represent the epitome of male perfection in youth, is clearly Hellenic but it is quite probable that he is an aspect of (or at least strongly influenced by) several gods of varying origins.  It is suspect that he is particularly modeled from the Sumerian God Dumuzi [duh-muh-zee / doo-moo-zee / dyoo-myoo-zee] (meaning, 'legal son') their dying/rising shepherd god.  Though no one can be certain to what degree it is generally accepted that while perhaps not an alternative incarnation of a particular Semetic dying/reborn vegetation and fertility god he is undoubtably influenced by them strongly.  To the Semites he equates to Tammuz [tah-mooz / ta-myooz], an aspect of Dumuzi, for whom the seventh month of the Arabic calendar was named (fourth month of the civil year on the Hebraic calendar).  It is likely Adonis was only influenced by Tammuz as well.  To the Etruscans he would be the handsome love and annually reviving vegetation God, Atunis [ah-too-nihs / ah-tyoo-nihs] and may be the second most likely origin of Adonis.  His only certain synonym is as the Grecian version of the Phoenician Adon(i) [ah-dohn] (meaning, "lord") which may have been more a title and ideal then an actual specific entity.  Upon arrival in Canaan, the Hebrews were opposed by the king of the Jebusites (the ancient inhabitants of Jebus or today's Jerusalem), Adonizedek, whose name means "lord of Zedek".  The Hebrew correlation for Adonis would be Adonai [ah-doh-nie] or Yahweh [yah-way].  Being a calendar god some suggest that Adonis may have assumed other aspects or identities depending upon the particular season of renewal under current emphasis.  It is clear that he is ever the glorious epitome of male youth, the consort of the ageless Goddess and rejuvenating divinity of nature. 

His birth origins are a bit conflicting.  The most popularly accepted story of his birth relates to Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) (who plays an on going, prominent role throughout Adonis' entire existence).  In this story the Goddess of love and beauty curses Myrrha [mihr-ah / muhr-rah] (Smyrna [smihr-nah]) [the granddaughter of Pygmalion [pihg-mal-ee-ahn / pihg-may-lee-ahn] and Galatea [gah-lah-tee-yah / gal-uh-tee-yah] with an insatiable, incestuous craving for her father, Cinyras [sin-ih-rihs], the king of Cyprus (Theias [thee-uhs] the King of Assyria,  further validating suspicions of Adonis' origins) when her mother boasted that the princess was lovelier than the Goddess Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) herself. The princess' nurse helped Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) with the scheme so that night after night Myrrha would share her father's bed. When the king  discovered the deception, he became insanely incensed, chasing and threatening his daughter's very life with his own sword.  When he realized his incestuous daughter not only had escaped his wrath and revenge but was also pregnant with his own childe he took his life in shame and despair.  The gods, taking pity on Myrrha as she herself had done no wrong, turned her into a tree that bears her name to this day, the myrrha tree. But the tale was not finished yet, the trunk began to swell.  Month after month the fullness of it grew until Adonis was born from it which confirms his role as a vegetation god.  Some stories credit the Goddess of childbirth (probably Eileithyia [ee-lihth-ee-yah] or the Roman, Lucina [loo-chee-nah]) as delivering him from the tree.  According to Apollodorus [ah-pahl-oh-dor-uhs] Adonis was the son of Cinyras and Metharme [mee-thahr-mee] while Hesiod [hee-sih-ahd / hehs-ih-ahd] credits his origins as the childe of Phoenix [fee-nihks] and Aelphesiboea [el-fee-sih-bee-ah / el-fuh-sih-bee-ah].

Another variant of the story says that the king had pursued his daughter relentlessly throughout her pregnancy and just as he finally sat his arrow upon her Myrrha was transformed into the tree by Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).  The king's arrow pierced the tree just the same and the young prince spilled out.  Another ending suggests the very boar that would later claim his life freed him while sharpening it's tusks on the tree.  Regardless of his actual birth the Prince was taken by Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), reared and protected by her.  Another variant of this story also involves arrows but it's Roman.  In this tale Venus at play with young Eros is pierced by one of the childe's arrows accidentally.  She sends the childe away so as not to fall victim to their power and be enamoured by him until she could heal.  Alas her injuries were much worse than she expected and before she could compleatly recover she beheld the vision of the beauteous young prince at hunt and totally was captivated by him eternally.

Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) could not ignore Adonis' uncommon beauty for long and set out to seduce him.  Sometimes, as is often the case in similar myths, Adonis is depicted as a reluctant consort who is only conquered by the Goddess through deceptive means.  In one tale Helene [hel-en-ah] helps Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), of course, this was before their falling out and that little mess in Troy.  The youth's beauty was a troublesome thing that enticed everyone who laid eyes on him.  Thinking that the gloomy, shunned confines of the underworld would be a fitting fortress Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) entrusted her friend the queen of the under regions, Persephone [puhr-sehf-oh-nee] (Proserpine [proh-suhr-pih-nee / proh-suhr-pee-nah] or Proserpina [proh-suhr-pee-nah] to the Romans), with his care.  Even Persephone herself was not immune to the natural allure of the young God so when Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) came to claim him, the queen refused to return him.  Naturally a tremendous argument was waged between the two goddesses until finally Zeus [zoos / zyoos / zee-uhs] (Jupiter [joo-pih-tuhr] or Jove [johv] to the Romans) himself had to intervene (some sources claim it was Calliope [kah-lie-oh-pee] on Zeus' behalf who resolved the matter).  It was agreed that Adonis would from that day forward divide his year three-fold spending four months equally with Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans), then Persephone and then the final third with whomever he chose.  The third portion it is said was always spent with Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).

In some stories he is killed by the boar and enters the underworld as he should.  Persephone meets him and becomes so enamoured that she will not allow him to leave when Zeus decrees he can be returned to the realm of the living to calm Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) whose mourning has disrupted the seasons.  In this version Zeus decides that he, like Persephone, will spend half of his year in the underworld with it's queen and the other half on Earth with Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans).  In this version it is not terribly unfamiliar from the story of Persephone's introduction to the underworld and the decision that half of her time must be divided between the two worlds to pacify a bereaved one and to restore the seasons.  In either case it was said that wherever the blood of Adonis fell the vibrant Anemone [ah-nih-moh-nee] or Wind Flower sprang up.  Some sources claim it was the mingled tears of Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) and the blood of Adonis that created them.  In some stories Venus commands the flowers to grow from his blood as an eternal memorial of his passage.  In either case the flower is sacred to him as a result.  Some sources claim red roses sprang from the blood droplets and is thereby sacred to him.  Red roses are sacred to most love divinities however.  The dying consort of the Goddess is a common theme across the Near East and North.

Some other tales explain various reasons why this boar has such a thing against Adonis in the first place.  Some blame a jealous Ares [air-eez] (Roman's Mars [mahrz]) who did not appreciate Adonis taking up all of Aphrodite's (Venus to the Romans) attention.  Another suggests Artemis ([ahr-tih-mihs / ahr-tee-mihs] Diana [die-ann-ah /dee-ah-nah] to the Romans, in which Ares is her lover) sent the wild boar to kill Adonis.  This latter story conflicts sharply with other stories of Artemis where she remains chaste and pure so it is suspicious and considered void of any basis in fact.  Yet another possible suspect was Apollo [ah-pah-loh / uh-pah-loh] who was believed to be enraged by Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) who had cursed his son, Erymanthus [uhr-ih-mann-thuhs / uhr-ih-mann-thyoos / uhr-ih-mann-thyoos] who had accidentally seen Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) naked.  To your author it is interesting to note that Erymanthus is a mountain in Arcadia that was plagued by a wild boar known as the Erymanthian [uhr-ih-mann-thee-ann] Boar (which the capture of the same was the third labor of Herakles [hair-ah-kleez / huhr-uh-kleez] [Roman's Hercules [huhr-kyoo-leez]) in which his olde friend Chiron [kih-rahn] was wounded in the knee.  It is also of interest that Mount Erymanthus was considered Sacred to Artemis.  Considering these facts it is not hard to assume that the story based on Artemis could have more founding but the tale has been confused.  Perhaps because Ares was Aphrodite's (Venus to the Romans) jealous lover, Apollo and Artemis both wanted revenge for the blinding of Erymanthus and there just happened to be a wild boar so perhaps Artemis' part in the story was to encourage Ares to get a boar hunt going or to chase the boar after Adonis.  Perhaps somewhere in the translation or the story's history it was confused and Ares was inferred as Artemis' lover when in fact he had been Aphrodite's.  I do not know and am only adding this as a reasonable and possible explanation for this tale.  A supposition as to what it might have been referring to.

The below chart includes entries from Crowley's well known and employed work entitled "777" with my additions in white. 

Magickal Correspondences
Magickal Weapons
Olibanum Acacia
Childe Rose Quartz
Lamen/Rosy Cross Narcissus Anemone
Lamp Rose
Lion Yellow Diamond


Solitary animal


Solitary Person





Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Created:  4:41 PM 9/24/2004
Updated:  9:11 PM 9/24/2004