ancient greeks

Adonis was the most beautiful of young men, he was the son of king Cinyras of Cyprus and his daughter Myrrha. The gods turned Myrrha into a tree, and out of its trunk Adonis was born. Because of the fact that he was the result of incest, he was hidden in the underworld and looked after by Persephone.

When Aphrodite saw him she fell desperately in love, and when he was killed while hunting by a wild boar, she pleaded with Zeus to bring him back to life. Zeus agreed to get the young man back, but he had to stay in the underworld during winter and be with Aphrodite in summer, thus making the vegetation die in winter and blossom in summer.

The cult of Adonis was the first important cult in ancient Greece. It has been suggested that Adonis was a semitic god, since his name seems to be a grecian for of adon - the lord. The myth also resembles the Babylonian story of the god Tammuz death: here, it is Ishtar who laments him and brings him back to the world.

Especially the ancient Greek women would worhip Adonis, and womens' laments were sometimes called Adoniscries. The so-called Adonisgardens were pots with flower seeds in them surrounding a statue of the god. In summer the flowers would grow and in winter wither, symbolizing the myth above.This makes Adonis a god of vegetation as well.

In spring there would be Adonis festivals where wild celebrations of joy would take place, and in autumn there would be mourning processions.