FOTO: 19th century bronze copy of an ancient original from Pompeii, called variously Ádônis, Apóllôn, Diónysos, and Narcissus. Foto by the author who releases it to the Public Domain.


Ádônis, the Name:

Ádônis (Adônis, Ἄδωνις. Pronounced: AH-thoh-nees, the δ at the beginning of the second syllable is pronounced like the soft th in this, not like the hard th in theory, not like the d in dog.). The word, even in ancient Greece, used as exemplar of a beautiful boy or young man; Liddell & Scott offers "darling."

It has been argued that the cult of Ádônis has Semitic origins, in particular, Phoenician origin. The name itself is said to be derived from the Canaanite ādōn (“lord”) or the Hebrew Adonai (אֲדֹנָי‎). This etymology has been questioned in recent years [1] since a similar myth is not present in these other cultures, but this would seem to question the mythology itself, which attributes the parentage of Ádônis to a Semitic princess.

The Mythology of Ádônis:

The story of Ádônis is a great expression of hope and meaning in Ællinismόs (Hellenismos, Ἑλληνισμός), the ancient Greek religion.

There are conflicting stories concerning the parentage and life of Ádônis, but perhaps the most familiar mythology is as follows in which we follow the Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου [2]. The author of that text attributes his version of the story to Panÿásis (Πανυάσις), the 5th Century BCE epic poet from Alikarnassós (Halicarnassus, Ἁλικαρνασσός)

Ádônis was the son of Theias (Θείας), king of the Assyrians, whose daughter was Smýrna (Σμύρνα). This daughter became possessed of a lust for her father because of the anger of Aphrodítî (Aphroditê, Ἀφροδίτη), for Smýrna did not give Aphrodíti cultus. Smýrna deceived her father and slept with him for twelve nights. When Theias discovered with whom he slept, he became enraged and grasped his sword intending to kill her. Smýrna pleaded to the Gods to save her, who then rescued Smýrna by transforming her into the smýrna (myrrh) tree as she fled her murderous father.

But now the tree was pregnant, and after the necessary months, her trunk split open and she gave birth to a beautiful boy: Ádônis. When Aphrodítî beheld the boy, the Goddess immediately fell in love with him. She realized that anyone who beheld the boy would desire him, so she hid him from all eyes. Aphrodítî then placed him in a chest which she left with Pærsæphónî (Persephonê, Περσεφόνη) for safe-keeping. But curiosity possessed Pærsæphónî and she opened the chest. When she took one look at Ádônis, she fell deeply in love. Aphrodítî and Pærsæphónî then quarreled over the boy. Zefs (Ζεύς) intervened, requiring the youth to spend four months of each year with each Goddess, but the last four months were given to Ádônis to be wherever he wished. Ádônis chose to spend his own four months with Aphrodítî for a total of eight months each year.

One day while Ádônis was hunting, he was killed by a boar [3]. Some say that the boar was actually Árîs (Arês, Άρης), some say Apóllôn (Apollô, Ἀπόλλων) [4], or even Diónysos (Διόνυσος) [5]. Upon finding the body of her beloved, Aphrodítî sprinkled nectar into his blood, and from the blood of Ádônis arose flowers. When an Olympian deity kills a mortal, the mortal always becomes a God.


The Adóhnia (Adônia, Ἀδώνια) is a great festival of Ádônis and a great festival of Ællinismόs. The Adóhnia is celebrated on or near the Orthodox Christian festival of Easter, which conceals the ancient holiday. There are many festivals under this name from ancient Greece, mostly festivals for women, but we are describing here a festival of our tradition, a more generalized festival for the God.

The Adóhnia has layers of meanings:

- The Adóhnia celebrates the return of spring. Hence, it is customary to include spring flowers with the offerings.

- The Adóhnia commemorates death of the mortal Ádônis and his re-birth as a God. By extension, the Adóhnia celebrates the deification of all mortals who have become Gods (ἀνθρωποδαίμονες) and the potential deification of all souls in the universe.

- The deepest meaning of the Adóhnia is that it honors the mighty center of enormously powerful Gods of the Kózmos (Cosmos, Κόσμος) who are responsible for all deification, who produce the myriad Gods of all the many galaxies in the entire universe. This great center of Gods is represented in the ritual with the recitation of the Orphic hymn to the Mother of the Gods (27 Μητρὸς θεῶν). We honor deification because it is the fulfillment of the providence of Zefs. With great compassion for his children, Zefs conceived Diónysos who by his Mysteries frees us from the sorrowful circle of births (κύκλος γενέσεως); this freeing is ækthǽohsis (ectheosis, ἐκθέωσις), the deification of the soul.

The Adóhnia in the Southern Hemisphere

The Adóhnia festival for the southern hemisphere presents a dilemma, for which we can only improvise. People in both hemispheres can celebrate the mystical meaning of the festival at the time of the Christian Easter-holiday. Those in the southern hemisphere may have another festival for Ádônis at the appropriate time of year, to honor the meaning concerning the return of spring.

ORPHIC HYMN 56. TO ÁDÔNIS (trans. by Thomas Taylor, 1792)

The Fumigation from Aromatics.

Much-nam'd, and best of dæmons, hear my pray'r,

The desert-loving *, deck'd with tender hair;

Joy to diffuse, by all desir'd is thine,

Much form'd, Eubulus; aliment divine:

Female and Male, all-charming to the sight,

Adonis ever flourishing and bright;

At stated periods doom'd to set and rise,

With splendid lamp, the glory of the skies.

Two-horn'd and lovely, reverenc'd with tears,

Of beauteous form, adorn'd with copious hairs.

Rejoicing in the chace, all-graceful pow'r,

Sweet plant of Venus, Love's delightful flow'r:

Descended from the secret bed divine,

Of lovely-hair'd, infernal Proserpine.

'Tis thine to sink in Tartarus profound,

And shine again thro' heav'ns illustrious round,

With beauteous temp'ral orb restor'd to sight;

Come, with earth's fruits, and in these flames delight.

* Originally spelled in this 1792 translation: desart-loving.

56. Ἀδώνιδος, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα

Κλῦθί μου εὐχομένου, πολυώνυμε, δαῖμον ἄριστε,

ἁβροκόμη, φιλέρημε, βρύων ὠιδαῖσι ποθειναῖς,

Εὐβουλεῦ, πολύμορφε, τροφεῦ πάντων ἀρίδηλε,

κούρη καὶ κόρε, σὺ πᾶσιν θάλος αἰέν, Ἄδωνι,

σβεννύμενε λάμπων τε καλαῖς ἐν κυκλάσιν ὥραις,

αὐξιθαλής, δίκερως, πολυήρατε, δακρυότιμε,

ἀγλαόμορφε, κυναγεσίοις χαίρων, βαθυχαῖτα,

ἱμερόνους, Κύπριδος γλυκερὸν θάλος, ἔρνος Ἔρωτος,

Φερσεφόνης ἐρασιπλοκάμου λέκτροισι λοχευθεῖς,

ὃς ποτὲ μὲν ναίεις ὑπὸ Τάρταρον ἠερόεντα,

ἠδὲ πάλιν πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ἄγεις δέμας ὡριόκαρπον·

ἐλθέ, μάκαρ, μύσταισι φέρων καρποὺς ἀπὸ γαίης.


[1] See Etymological Dictionary of Greek by Robert Beekes, Vol. 1, 2010, Brill, p. 23.

[2] Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου 3.183 Ádohnis, as numbered in R. Scott Smith and Stephen M. Trzaskoma's translation; or as numbered in J.G. Frazier's translation: Book III. xiv. 4.

[3] At this point we leave Βιβλιοθήκη Ἀπολλοδώρου.

[4] Serv. ad Virg. Ecl. x. 18; Ptolem. Hephaest. i. p. 306, ed. Gale (as cited by William Smith, 1870 in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology).

[5] Phanocles ap. Plut. Sumpos. iv. 5. (as cited by William Smith, 1870 in Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology)

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

Introduction to the Thæí (the Gods): The Nature of the Gods.

How do we know there are Gods? Experiencing Gods

The logo to the left is the principal symbol of this website. It is called the CESS logo, i.e. the Children of the Earth and the Starry Sky. The Pætilía (Petelia, Πετηλία) and other golden tablets having this phrase (Γῆς παῖς εἰμί καὶ Οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος) are the inspiration for the symbol. The image represents this idea: Earth (divisible substance) and the Sky (continuous substance) are the two kozmogonic substances. The twelve stars represent the Natural Laws, the dominions of the Olympian Gods. In front of these symbols is the seven-stringed kithára (cithara, κιθάρα), the lyre of Apóllôn (Apollo, Ἀπόλλων). It (here) represents the bond between Gods and mortals and is representative that we are the children of Orphéfs (Orpheus, Ὀρφεύς).

PLEASE NOTE: Throughout the pages of this, you will find fascinating stories. These narratives are known as mythology, the traditional stories of the Gods and Heroes. While these tales are great mystical vehicles containing transcendent truth, they are symbolic and should not be taken literally; a literal reading will frequently yield an erroneous result. The meaning of the myths is often concealed in code. To understand them requires a key. For instance, when a God kills someone, this usually means a transformation of the soul to a higher level. Similarly, sexual union with a God is a transformation.

The story of the birth of the Gods: Orphic Theogony.

We know the various qualities and characteristics of the Gods based on metaphorical stories: Mythology.

Dictionary of terms related to ancient Greek mythology: Glossary of Hellenic Mythology.

SPELLING: uses the Reuchlinian method of pronouncing ancient Greek, the system preferred by scholars from Greece itself. An approach was developed to enable the student to easily approximate the Greek words. Consequently, the way we spell words is unique, as this method of transliteration is exclusive to this website. For more information, visit these three pages:

Pronunciation of Ancient Greek

Transliteration of Ancient Greek

Pronouncing the Names of the Gods in Hellenismos

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