MYTHOLOGY series: aphrodite & adonis
Aphrodite was Adonis’ lover and a surrogate mother to him. Cinyras, the King of Cyprus, had an intoxicatingly beautiful daughter named Myrrha. When Myrrha’s mother commits hubris against Aphrodite by claiming her daughter is more beautiful than the famed goddess, Myrrha is punished with a never-ending lust for her own father. Cinyras is repulsed by this, but Myrrha disguises herself as a prostitute, and secretly sleeps with her father at night. Eventually, Myrrha becomes pregnant and is discovered by Cinyras. In a rage, he chases her out of the house with a knife. Myrrha flees from him, praying to the gods for mercy as she runs. The gods hear her plea, and change her into a myrrh tree so her father cannot kill her. Eventually, Cinyras takes his own life in an attempt to restore the family’s honor.
Myrrha gives birth to a baby boy named Adonis. Aphrodite happens by the myrrh tree and, seeing him, takes pity on the infant. She places Adonis in a box, and takes him down to Hades so Persephone can care for him. Adonis grows into a strikingly handsome young man, and Persephone is loath to give him up, wishing Adonis would stay with her in the underworld. The goddess of love went down herself to the Underworld to ransom the baby Adonis from the power of the dead. The two goddesses begin such a quarrel, Zeus is forced to intercede. He decrees that Adonis will spend a third of the year with Aphrodite, a third of the year with Persephone, and a third of the year with whomever he wishes. Adonis chooses Aphrodite.
The quarrel between Aphordite and Persephone for the possession of Adonis reflects the struggle between love and death.