Who Is Adonis in Greek Mythology?


Quick Answer

In Greek mythology, Adonis is one of Aphrodite's lovers who is eventually killed by Ares. Adonis was thought to be responsible for winter, spring and summer. When he died at the hands of Ares, Aphrodite used his blood to create the anemone flower.

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Full Answer

The Greek myth of Adonis begins when Aphrodite tricks Adonis's mother, Myrrha, to have sex with Myrrha's own father, King Theias of Assyria. Myrrha becomes pregnant with Adonis following the encounter with her father. King Theias discovers that he has been tricked into incest with his own daughter and seeks to kill Myrrha. Aphrodite takes pity on Myrrha and protects her from King Theias by turning Myrrha into a myrrh tree. Adonis is born from the tree and put in a chest by Aphrodite, who is smitten by Adonis' beauty. Aphrodite gives the chest to Persephone, the goddess of the underworld, for safe keeping. Persephone becomes curious about the contents of the chest and eventually opens it. When she finds Adonis, Persephone is also taken with how beautiful the boy is and decides to keep him for herself. Aphrodite pleads with Persephone to give her back Adonis, but Persephone refuses. Eventually, Zeus is called in to decide who Adonis rightfully belongs to. Zeus decrees that Adonis shall live with Persephone for four months out of the year, with Aphrodite for the next four, and then Adonis can choose which of the two goddesses to live with the for the last four. Adonis always chooses Aphrodite. During the time that Adonis is in the underworld with Persephone, there is winter. When he returns to Aphrodite, there is spring and summer.

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