Thursday, May 5, 2011


Adonis ("lord"), in Greek mythology, a favorite of Aphrodite, is a figure with Northwest Semiticantecedents, where he is a central cult figure in various mystery religions. The Greek Αδωνις(Greek pronunciation: , Adōnis is a variation of the Semitic word Adonai, "lord", which is also one of the names used to refer to Yahweh in the Old Testament. Syrian Adonis is closely related to the Cypriot Gauas or Aos, to Egyptian Osiris.

Myth of Adonis

In the central myth in its Greek telling, Aphrodite fell in love with the beautiful youth (possibly because she had been wounded by Cupid's arrow). The most detailed and literary version of the story of Adonis is a late one, in Book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses.
 Aphrodite sheltered him and entrusted him to Persephone. The latter was also taken by Adonis' beauty and refused to give him back to Aphrodite. The dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus (or by Calliope on Zeus' behalf): Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. He chose to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.
 Adonis was killed by a wild boar, said to have been sent variously by Artemis, jealous of Adonis' hunting skills; by Ares, who was jealous of Aphrodite's love for Adonis; or by Apollo, to punish Aphrodite for blinding his son, Erymanthus. Adonis died in Aphrodite's arms, who came to him when she heard his groans. When he died she sprinkled the blood with nectar, from which sprang the short-lived anemone, which takes its name from the wind which so easily makes its petals fall. And so it is the blood of Adonis that each spring turns to red the torrential river, the Adonis River (modern Nahr Ibrahim in Lebanon). Afqa is the sacred source where the waters of the river emerge from a huge grotto in a cliff 200 meters high. It is there that the myth of Astarte (Venus) and Adonis was born.
Death of Adonis, by Luca Giordano.

Plant Taxonomy for Adonis Plants:

The Name, "Adonis" Flowers:

In Greek mythology, Adonis was a Greek youth loved by Aphrodite. But Adonis was gored by a boar and died. Through the power of the mourning goddess, a red flower sprang up from the youth's blood on the spot. Sound familiar? There are similar Greek myths regarding the narcissus (daffodil) flower and the hyacinth flower, for example.But there can be a twist in these stories for us moderns: the flower of the myth is not always the flower that we know by the same name. It's not in this case: What we call the "Adonis flower" is not the flower referenced in the Greek myth. That honor belongs to the anemone .

Not Related to "Adonis Blue": 

Newcomers to gardening may confuse the name of Adonis flowers with a type of butterfly bush called "Adonis Blue." But the two are, in fact, totally unrelated.

 Outstanding Characteristic of Adonis Plants:

These perennials bear attractive foliage and cheerfully colored flowers. But no doubt, their outstanding feature is their precociousness in blooming. Depending upon your climate, the Amur type will begin blooming in late February to early March. The spring flowers that are first to bloom have little competition for our affections and are a true delight to the winter-weary!

Other Types: Adonis Vernalis, Etc.:

As mentioned above, most types of Adonis are perennials; some, however, are annuals.Adonis aestivalis (sometimes given as Adonis annua) and Adonis autumnalis are annuals that bear red flowers with a black center. Their common name, "pheasant's eye" derives from the fact that their red flowers are reminiscent of the red eye patch that the male pheasant sports.
Interestingly, Adonis vernalis and the other yellow-flowered members of this genus are also sometimes called "pheasant's eye," in spite of their flower color; perhaps they picked up the nickname by association with the red Adonises. Some people are more precise when using this common name for Adonis vernalis and the other yellow-flowered Adonises and specify "yellow pheasant eye." Adonis vernalis, a native of Europe and Asia, is also sometimes called "false hellebore".If I had to pick a "real Adonis," if you will, from among this genus, it would have to be one of the annual types: since they bear red flowers, they relate more closely to the myth of Adonis than do the yellow-flowered types. The anemone in the myth is, after all, red in color, symbolic of the blood of the slain youth.
 But why, perhaps you ask, are these flowers called "Adonis" at all, when the flower of the myth is the anemone? In a sense, isn't this a genus of imposters? Yes, but the red anemone and the red Adonis are, in fact, similar in appearance. That's not surprising, since the Anemone and Adonis genera are related, botanically, both being in the Ranunculus family (as is another similar-looking flower: Pasque flower). From this similarity in appearance, it was not too big a leap to pay a fitting tribute to the myth and name the genus "Adonis."

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