Tammuz, Phoenician, Greek, Greece
Aphrodite (Venus) and Adonis
by Francois Lemoyne
Lebanon a beautiful baby boy was born and left without parents to care for him. Our Lady Aphrodite
fell in love with him, and placed him in the care of the goddess of the
underworld for safekeeping. Unfortunately when she went back to claim the
boy, the other woman had also fallen in love with him and would not give
him up. As a compromise it was agreed the boy would live half of the year
with each of them. Nurtured by the love of these two women,
grew into a handsome and influential young man in the hills above Byblos.
He became known as 'adon, which meant "lord," and then as
Tragically, one of the male gods became jealous of Adonis. The rival changed himself into a wild boar and fatally gored the handsome young man. As Adonis lay dying in the arms of Aphrodite, drops of his blood spilled out and stained the anemone flower crimson red. When he was gone, Aphrodite went to the goddess of the underworld again to see if their bargain could be restored. Her outpouring of grief and love was so strong that it was agreed Adonis would live again. He would stay in the hills of Byblos for six months each year during spring and summer, and then return below for fall and winter.
observance of these things, the river which coursed down from these hills
to a place near Byblos was
called the Adonis River
(today, Nahr Ibrahim
). Each year when runoff from the Lebanon Mountains
turned the river red, it was said to be the blood of Adonis. The
crimson-red anemone continued to bloom there each year. And the grotto at
the side of the mountain from which the Adonis River flowed became a place
his honor “Adonis gardens” were grown by sprouting seeds in a dish
which sprang up bright and green, but then perished. This was done every
year in memory of his life and death. At the same time, a period of
mourning was declared during which women
wail and expose their breasts in an expression of grief. After seven days
of mourning, Adonis was reborn amid effusive celebration and festivities.
Greeks later became so caught up in these emotional observances that the
legend of Adonis was
brought completely into their mythology as well.
The story of Byblos, and of the cedar-covered Lebanon mountains in which Adonis lived, are explored in greater detail in Chapters 2 – 9 of Phoenician Secrets: Exploring the Ancient Mediterranean.
The Awakening of Adonis
by J.W. Waterhouse
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