Adonis ədō´nĭs, ədŏn´ĭs [key], in Greek mythology, beautiful youth beloved by Aphrodite and Persephone . He was born of the incestuous union of Myrrha (or Smyrna) and Cinyras, king of Cyprus. Aphrodite left Adonis in the care of Persephone, who raised him and made him her lover. Aphrodite later demanded the youth for herself, but Persephone was unwilling to relinquish him. When Adonis was gored to death by a boar, both Persephone and Aphrodite claimed him. Zeus settled the dispute by arranging for Adonis to spend half the year (the summer months) above the ground with Aphrodite and the other half in the underworld with Persephone. Adonis' death and resurrection, symbolic of the yearly cycle of vegetation, were widely celebrated in ancient Greece in the midsummer festival Adonia. The worship of Adonis corresponds to the cults of the Phrygian Attis and the Babylonian Tammuz .
See Sir J. G. Frazer, Adonis, Attis, Osiris (1907, new ed. 1961).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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