Adonis (Phoenician “lord”), in Greek mythology, the god of beauty and desire, is a figure with Northwest Semitic antecedents, where he is a central figure in various mystery religions. The Greek Ἄδωνις (Greek pronunciation: [ˈadɔːnis]), Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic wordAdonai, “lord”, which is also one of the names used to refer to God in the Old Testament. Syrian Adonis is closely related to the CypriotGauas or Aos, to Egyptian Osiris, to the Semitic Tammuz and Baal Hadad, to the Etruscan Atunis and the Phrygian Attis, all of whom are deities of rebirth and vegetation. His religion belonged to women: the dying of Adonis was fully developed in the circle of young girls around the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, about 600 BCE, as revealed in a fragment of Sappho’s surviving poetry.
Adonis is one of the most complex figures in classical times. He has had multiple roles, and there has been much scholarship over the centuries concerning his meaning and purpose in Greek religious beliefs. He is an annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar. His name is often applied in modern times to handsome youths, of whom he is the archetype. Adonis is often referred to as the mortal god of Beauty.
Myths of Adonis
In the central myth in its Greek telling, Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful youth (possibly because she had been wounded by Eros‘s arrow). The most detailed and literary version of the story of Adonis is a late one, in Book X of Ovid‘sMetamorphoses. Aphrodite sheltered Adonis as a new-born baby and entrusted him to Persephone. The latter was also taken by Adonis’ beauty and refused to give him back to Aphrodite. The dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus (or by Calliope on Zeus’ behalf): 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.
Adonis was killed by a wild boar, said to have been sent variously by Artemis, jealous of Adonis’ hunting skills or in retaliation for Aphrodite instigating the death of Hippolytus, a favorite of the huntress goddess; or by Aphrodite’s paramour, Ares, who was jealous of Aphrodite’s love for Adonis; or by Apollo, to punish Aphrodite for blinding his son, Erymanthus. Adonis died inAphrodite‘s arms, who came to him when she heard his groans. When he died she sprinkled the blood with nectar, from which sprang the short-lived anemone, which takes its name from the wind which so easily makes its petals fall. And so it is the blood of Adonis that each spring turns to red the torrential river, the Adonis River (also known as Abraham River or Nahr Ibrahim in Arabic) in modern Lebanon. Afqa is the sacred source where the waters of the river emerge from a huge grotto in a cliff 200 meters high. It is there that the myth of Astarte (Venus) and Adonis was born.
Parentage and birth
Adonis’ birth is shrouded in confusion for those who require a single, authoritative version, for various peripheral stories circulated concerning Adonis’ parentage. The patriarchal Hellenes sought a father for the god, and found him in Byblos and Cyprus, which scholars take to indicate the direction from which Adonis’ had come to the Greeks. Pseudo-Apollodorus, (Bibliotheke, 3.182) considered Adonis to be the son of Cinyras, of Paphos on Cyprus, andMetharme. 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 Aephesiboea. In Cyprus, Adonis gradually superseded that of Cinyras. Hesiod made him the son of Phoenix, eponym of the Phoenicians, thus a figure of Phoenician origin; his association with Cyprus is not attested before the classical era. W. Atallah suggests that the later Hellenistic myth of Adonis represents the conflation of two independent traditions. Alternatively the late source Bibliotheke calls him the son of Cinyras and Metharme. The more widely accepted version, recounted in Ovid‘s Metamorphoses, is that Aphrodite compelled Myrrha (or Smyrna) to commit incest with her father Theias, the king of Assyria. Fleeing his wrath, Myrrha was turned into a myrrh tree. Theias struck the tree with an arrow, whereupon it burst open and Adonis emerged. Another version has a wild boar tear open the tree with its tusks, thus foreshadowing Adonis’ death.
Origin of the cult
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Adonis was certainly based in large part on Tammuz. His name is Semitic, a variation on the word “adon” meaning “lord“. Yet there is no trace of a Semitic deity directly connected with Adonis, and no trace in Semitic languages of any specific mythemes connected with his Greek myth; both Greek and Near Eastern scholars have questioned the connection (Burkert, p 177 note 6 bibliography). The connection in practice is with Adonis’ Mesopotamian counterpart, Tammuz:
“Women sit by the gate weeping for Tammuz, or they offer incense to Baal on roof-tops and plant pleasant plants. These are the very features of the Adonis legend: which is celebrated on flat roof-tops on which sherds sown with quickly germinating green salading are placed, Adonis gardens… the climax is loud lamentation for the dead god.”—Burkert, p. 177.
When the legend of Adonis was incorporated into Greek culture is debated. Walter Burkert questions whether Adonis had not from the very beginning come to Greece with Aphrodite. “In Greece” Burkert concludes, “the special function of the 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.”
Adonis was worshipped in unspoken mystery religions: not until Imperial Roman times (in Lucian of Samosata, De Dea Syria, ch. 6 ) does any written source mention that the women were consoled by a revived Adonis. The third century BCE poet Euphorion of Chalcis in his Hyacinth wrote “Only Cocytus washed the wounds of Adonis”. Women in Athens would plant “gardens of Adonis” quick-growing herbs that sprang up from seed and died. The Festival of Adonis was celebrated by women at midsummer by sowing fennel and lettuce, and grains of wheat and barley. The plants sprang up soon, and withered quickly, and women mourned for the death of the vegetation god.
Cultural references to the rebirth mythology
The myth of the death and rebirth of 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 inItalian literature from Mannerism to the Baroque. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the poem Adonais for John Keats, and uses the myth as an extended metaphor for Keats’ death.
Such allusions have continued to the present day. Adonis (an Arabic transliteration of the same name, أدونيس) is the pen name of a famous Syrian poet, Ali Ahmad Said Asbar, who was nominated more than once for a Nobel Prize for literature, including in 2006. His choice of name relates especially to the rebirth element of the myth of 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. 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.
Modern association with physical beauty and youth
An extremely attractive, youthful male is often called an Adonis, often with a connotation of deserved vanity: “the office Adonis.” The legendary attractiveness of the figure is referenced in Sarrasine by Honoré de Balzac, which describes an unrequited love of the main character, Sarrasine for the image in a painting of an Adonis and a castrato. The allusion to extreme physical attractiveness is apparent in the psychoanalytical Adonis Complex which refers to a body imageobsession with improving one’s physique and youthful appearance.
Bodybuilders use the expression “Adonis belt” to refer to the two shallow grooves of the surface anatomy of the human abdomen running from the iliac crest(hip bone) to the pubis. Also, the Golden Ratio of a tape measure of shoulder-to-waist ratio is called the Adonis Index.
- Adonia, feasts celebrating Adonis
- Theorizing about Myth, a Jungian interpretation of the Adonis myth by R. Segal
- Muscle dysmorphia, as part of Adonis Complex
- Myrrha, mother of Adonis per Greek mythology
- ^ Detienne, Marcel (1994). The Gardens of Adonis: Spices in Greek Mythology, Princeton University Press, ISBN 978-0-691-00104-3 (p.137)
- ^ See life-death-rebirth deity.
- ^ The standard modern survey and repertory of Adonis in Greek culture is W. Atallah, Adonis dans la littérature et l’art grecs (Paris) 1966.
- ^ According to Nonnus, Dionysiaca 42.1f. Servius on Virgil‘s Ecloguesx.18; Orphic Hymn lv.10; Ptolemy Hephaestionos, i.306, 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.
- ^ Ps-Apollodorus, iii.14.4.1.
- ^ Atallah 1966
- ^ Atallah 1966.
- ^ Burkert 1985, p. 17).
- ^ “De Dea Syria”. Archived from the original on 2009-10-24.
- ^ Remarked upon in passing by Photius, Biblioteca 190 (on-line translation).
- ^ Detienne 1972.
- Burkert, Walter, 1985.Greek Religion, “Foreign gods” p 176f
- Detienne, Marcel, 1972. Les jardins d’Adonis, translated by Janet Lloyd, 1977. The Gardens of Adonis, Harvester Press.
- Frazer, James. The Golden Bough. (1890, etc.; recent edition: London: Penguin, 1996).
- Graves, Robert (1955) 1960. The Greek Myths (Penguin), 18.h-.k
- Kerenyi, Karl, 1951 The Gods of the Greeks pp 75–76.
- Theoi.com: Aphrodite and Adonis
- Hamilton, Edith 1942,1969 Mythology pg. 90-91
- 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.
Adônis (português brasileiro) ou Adónis (português europeu), nas mitologias fenícia e grega, era um jovem de grande beleza que nasceu das relações incestuosas que o rei Cíniras de Chipre manteve com a sua filha Mirra.
Adônis passou a despertar o amor de Perséfone e Afrodite. Mais tarde as duas deusas passaram a disputar a companhia do menino, e tiveram que submeter-se à sentença de Zeus. Este estipulou que ele passaria um terço do ano com cada uma delas, mas Adônis, que preferia Afrodite, permanecia com ela também o terço restante. Nasce desse mito a ideia do ciclo anual da vegetação, com a semente que permanece sob a terra por quatro meses.
Adônis e as deusas
A deusa grega Afrodite, do amor e da beleza sensual, apaixonou-se por ele. No entanto, o deus Ares, da guerra, amante de Afrodite, ao saber da traição da deusa, decide atacar Adônis enviando um javali para matá-lo. O animal desferiu um golpe fatal na anca de Adônis, tendo o sangue que jorrou transformado-se numa anêmona.
Afrodite, que corria por entre as selvas para socorrer o seu amante, feriu-se e o sangue que lhe escorria das feridas tingiu as rosas brancas de vermelho. Outra versão do mito conta que Afrodite transmutou o sangue do amado numa anêmona.
O jovem morto desceu então ao submundo, onde governava ao lado de Hades e sua esposa, a deusa Perséfone – a rainha do submundo, que também apaixonou-se por ele. Isso causou um grande desgosto em Afrodite, e as duas deusas tornaram-se rivais.
Inicialmente, Perséfone, compadecida pelo sofrimento de Afrodite, prometeu restituí-lo com uma condição: Adônis passaria seis meses no submundo com ela e outros seis meses na Terra com Afrodite. Cedo o acordo foi desrespeitado, o que provocou nova discussão entre as duas deusas, que só terminou com a intervenção de Zeus, que determinou que Adônis seria livre quatro meses do ano, passaria outros quatro com Afrodite e os restantes quatro com Perséfone.
Deus oriental da vegetação, divindade ctônia (que cumpre o ciclo da semente).
Embora seja mais conhecido como divindade grega Adônis teve, no entanto, origem na Síria, onde era cultuado sob o nome semita de Tamuz. Era também um deus eternamente jovem, ligado à vida, à morte e à ressurreição, estando associado ao calendário agrícola. De resto, o nome Adônis deve ter origem no mundo semítico – parece proceder do semitaAdonai, expressão que significa Meu Senhor. É um deus que congrega em si elementos de várias origens, demonstrativo do grande sincretismo religioso produzido pelos gregos daantigüidade.