ADONIS, a-dO'nis, in Greek legend, son of Myrrha, daughter of Cinyras King of Cy prus: born in Arabia. Before the birth of her son she was transformed into the tree which produces the fragrant gum called by her name; this, however, did not hinder his being brought into the world in due season. He grew up a model of manly beauty and was passionately beloved by Aphrodite (Venus), who quitted Olympus to dwell with him. Hunting was his favorite pursuit, until, having gone to the chase against the entreaties of his mistress, he was mortally wounded in the thigh by a wild boar. Venus, coming too late to his rescue, changed his blood into flowers. After death he was said to stand as high in the favor of Perse phone (Proserpine) as before in that of Aphrodite; but, the latter being inconsolable, her rival generously consented that Adonis should spend half the year with his celestial, half with his infernal mistress. This is a highly decorated form; the simpler and older myth seems to have been that Aphrodite and Persephone contested the beautiful child's pos session, and Zeus ordered that he should spend four months with each and four as he chose. The fable has been variously interpreted. The alternate abode of Adonis above and under the earth is typical of the burial of seed, which in due season rises above ground for the propaga tion of its species. How much of the myth
was cause and how much result of the famous Greek woman's festival, the Adonia, cannot be said. This represented the union of Adonis and Aphrodite on one day and the sorrow over his death the other, and the women performed the funeral rites over small images of him; also planting quick-growing herbs like fennel and lettuce in shards filled with earth, and throwing them into springs after the 'burial. It was a worship of the reproductive principle of plants, which after a short life die and are buried and again spring up; naturally, it was involved with the grossnesses of phallic wor ship, for which all growth-cults tended to be an excuse. The name is Semitic, adon, alord,D — though of course all the local gods were of the place,— and the cult was wide spread in the east; in Phoenicia the Adon was termed Thammuz, hidden.D The Greek celebration was often performed by the priestesses of Aphrodite, courtesans; but Theocritus' charming Idyl XV shows that in his time at least it was perfectly respectable for decent 'women to attend.