The Greek Adonis

The Greek Adonis was a man of unusual beauty for whom the goddesses fought. As usual, there are several versions about the birth of the Greek Adonis. In one of them, he was the son of Kinyras and Metharme. In another one, his parents were Phoenix (the king from whose name the Phenician people took its name) and Aephesiboea. The best known version, though, is the one in which his mother is Myrrha/Smyrna - but it's quite an ugly story.

Myrrha refused to worship Aphrodite the goddess of love - or else, her mother boasted that her daughter is more beautiful than the goddess of love. So Aphrodite decided to punish the poor Myrrha, by inspiring her with an unnatural love for her own father, Theias, king of the Assyrians.

With the help of her nurse, she managed to sneak into her father's room at night. After a while, the king found out that the woman he met at night, in the dark, was pregnant, so he wanted to see the face of the mother of his future child. When he realized she was his own daughter, he took out the sword and wanted to kill her. She ran away and, because he followed her, she asked the gods to hide her from both living and dead people, and so whe was turned into a myrrh tree.

Of course, we don't run out of versions about the birth of the Greek Adonis: Theias hit the tree with the sword and the baby emerged from the tree; a wild boar ripped the bark of the tree and the little Adonis was born (a kind of premonition of the way in which he would die); and last but not least, the baby grew inside the tree for nine months, and when the time was right the tree would cry in pain, but nobody could understand it. In the end the goddess of birth, Lucinia, came and touched the tree, which opened and freed Adonis (this last version is from Ovid's Metamorphoses, that's why the goddess of birth has the Roman name).

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, either felt sorry for poor Myrrha and wanted to see the baby born from, or she was just curious. Anyway, when she saw how beautiful the baby was, she decided to take care of him... let's see how. Click here for the story of Aphrodite and Adonis.

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