21. Venus and Adonis

Once upon a time, Cupid the son of Venus, was kissing his beloved mother, when a projecting arrow from his quiver, accidentally grazed the breast of Venus. The wounded Venus pushed her little boy away, but the scratch was deeper than Venus thought, for Venus fell in love with the youth Adonis, the son of Myrrha and Cinyras.

Thrilled at the amazing beauty of Adonis, the love-struck Venus forgot her Cytherian shores, and the lands of Paphos, Cnidos, and Amathus. She forgot to rest in the cool shade during high noon, and neglected care of her lovely beauty. She even forgot heaven, for she desired to spend her time only with her beloved Adonis.

Accompanying Adonis, she went into deep woods, over mountain ridges, and through wild fields thick with thorns and rocks. She warned Adonis to keep away from animals armed by nature, like boars, wolves, bears, and lions, for courage against the bold is not safe. She advised him to hunt for harmless prey like the hare, stag, or the doe.

Tired with unaccustomed labor, she asked Adonis to rest in the cool shade of a poplar tree. Reclining upon the grassy turf, pillowing her head on his breast, and mixing kisses with her words, she told the tale of Atalanta and Hippomenes. Thereafter, again warning Adonis to keep away from wild beasts, who offered bold breasts instead of fleeing backs, she harnessed her white swans to her light chariot and flew away in the compliant air.

But Adonis, heedless of any warning, pierced his spear into a wild boar that was by chance, aroused by his hunting dogs. The bleeding boar raced after Adonis and sank a fatal tusk, deep in his groin. Adonis, groaning painfully, died. Venus heard the groans and looking below, she saw the body of Adonis bathed in blood. Immediately, she came down but life had already left Adonis. Mourning for her beloved, she sprinkled nectar on his blood, from where a lovely flower named Anemone sprang up.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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