Another character peculiar to Cyprus was Adonis. There are a few variations on his story, but the basics are that he was the product of an incestuous union between a father and daughter. Princess Myrrha (or Smyrna) the daughter of Theias, the king of Assyria (or King Cinyras the Cyprian or King Phoenix of Byblus) was made by Aphrodite to fall in love and into bed with her father. This was done by Aphrodite because Smyrna’s mother had boasted of her daughters beauty saying that she was “even more beautiful than Aphrodite” . Smyrna’s nurse had masterminded the trickery by making the king so drunk that he didn’t know what he was doing.

When he discovered that Smyrna was pregnant with his baby he went beserk and chased her from the palace with a sword. As he overtook her on the brow of a hill, Aphrodite realising that he was going to kill her, turned her into a myrrh tree. The sword struck, and out tumbled Adonis the babe. Aphrodite then hid the baby in a chest, which she gave to Persephone Queen of the dead to look after. However Persephone looked in the chest and saw such beauty that she removed him and brought him up in her own palace. She then refused to give him back to Aphrodite.

The distasteful dispute between the two goddesses was settled by Zeus or Calliope on Zeus’ behalf. The decision was that Adonis was to spend one-third of every year with each goddess and the last third wherever he chose. He always chose to spend two-thirds of the year with Aphrodite.

Adonis came to a sticky end, but there are many versions of how, stuck by a boar or speared,but he died a violent death and due to the continuing machinations of Persephone and Aphrodite.

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