Adonis and Apollo are two famous figures in Greek mythology, but what is their relationship? Are they brothers, cousins, rivals, or something else? This article will explore the possible connections between these two handsome and powerful gods, based on the ancient sources and modern interpretations.
Adonis: The Mortal Lover of Aphrodite and Persephone
Adonis was a mortal lover of the goddess Aphrodite, and Persephone. One day, Adonis was gored by a wild boar during a hunting trip and died in Aphrodite’s arms as she wept. His blood mingled with her tears and became the anemone flower. Aphrodite declared the Adonia festival commemorating his tragic death, which was celebrated by women every year in midsummer. During this festival, Greek women would plant “gardens of Adonis”, small pots containing fast-growing plants, which they would set on top of their houses in the hot sun. The plants would sprout, but soon wither and die. Then the women would mourn the death of Adonis, tearing their clothes and beating their breasts in a public display of grief
The Greeks considered Adonis’s cult to be of Near Eastern origin. Adonis’s name comes from a Canaanite word meaning “lord” and most modern scholars consider the story of Aphrodite and Adonis to be derived from the earlier Mesopotamian myth of Inanna (Ishtar) and Dumuzid (Tammuz). In this myth, Inanna descends to the underworld to visit her sister Ereshkigal, but is trapped there by her jealous husband Nergal. She manages to send a message to her lover Dumuzid, who agrees to take her place in the underworld for half of the year. However, Dumuzid is also pursued by demons who want to drag him down to the realm of the dead. He hides in various places, but is eventually betrayed by his sister Geshtinanna, who reveals his location to the demons. He is then captured and killed by them, while Inanna mourns his loss
Apollo: The God of Light, Music, Healing, and Prophecy
Apollo was one of the most important and complex gods in Greek mythology. He was the son of Zeus and Leto, and the twin brother of Artemis. He was the god of light, music, healing, prophecy, archery, and many other domains. He was also associated with the sun, although he was not identical to Helios, the personification of the sun. He was worshipped throughout Greece and beyond, especially at his famous oracle at Delphi, where he spoke through his priestess Pythia. He was also known for his many love affairs with both mortals and immortals, such as Daphne, Cassandra, Coronis, Hyacinthus, Cyrene, and others. Some of his children were Asclepius, the god of medicine; Orpheus, the legendary musician; Troilus, the Trojan prince; and Phaethon, who tried to drive his father’s chariot but failed
Apollo was also involved in many myths and legends that showcased his power, wisdom, beauty, and sometimes arrogance. He killed the serpent Python that guarded Delphi and established his oracle there. He challenged Marsyas to a musical contest and flayed him alive when he lost. He helped Heracles complete his twelve labors by giving him advice or weapons. He fought on the side of the Greeks during the Trojan War and sent plagues to their enemies. He also had conflicts with other gods, such as Hermes, who stole his cattle; Hera, who sent a giant to kill him; and Zeus, who killed his son Asclepius for resurrecting the dead.
How are Adonis and Apollo Related?
There is no clear answer to this question, as different sources may give different accounts or interpretations. However, here are some possible ways that Adonis and Apollo could be related:
- Brothers: Some versions of Adonis’s parentage claim that he was the son of Phoenix and Alphesiboea, who were both descendants of Io , one of Zeus’s lovers who was turned into a cow by Hera’s jealousy. Io was also the ancestor of Epaphus , who was the father of Libya , who was the mother of Belus , who was the father of Aegyptus and Danaus . Aegyptus was the father of Aegialeus , who was the father of Linus , who was the father of Pierus , who was the father of Cyniras , who was the father of Adonis. Danaus was the father of Hypermnestra , who was the mother of Abas , who was the father of Proetus and Acrisius . Proetus was the father of Lysippe , who was the mother of Iphicles , who was the father of Iolaus , who was the father of Leucippus , who was the father of Arsinoe , who was the mother of Asclepius, Apollo’s son. Acrisius was the father of Danae , who was the mother of Perseus , who was the father of Electryon , who was the father of Alcmena , who was the mother of Heracles, Apollo’s half-brother. Therefore, Adonis and Apollo could be considered distant brothers through their common ancestor Io.
- Cousins: Another version of Adonis’s parentage claims that he was the son of Cinyras and Myrrha , who were both descendants of Belus, the son of Libya and Poseidon. Belus was the father of Aegyptus and Danaus, as mentioned above, and also of Phineus and Cepheus . Phineus was the father of Thessalus , who was the father of Piasus , who was the father of Cilix , who was the father of Theias , who was the father of Myrrha, Adonis’s mother. Cepheus was the father of Andromeda , who was the mother of Perses , who was the father of Astyages , who was the father of Mandane , who was the mother of Cyrus II (the Great) , who was the father of Cambyses II , who was the father of Atossa , who was the mother of Xerxes I , who was the father of Artaxerxes I , who was the father of Xerxes II , who was the father of Sogdianus , who was the father of Darius II (Nothus) , who was the father of Artaxerxes II (Mnemon) , who was the father of Artaxerxes III (Ochus) , who was the father of Arsames (Arses) , who was the father of Darius III (Codomannus) . Darius III married Stateira II, a descendant of Artaxerxes II through his daughter Atossa. Stateira II’s grandfather, Ostanes, married a daughter of Artaxerxes II and his concubine Alogyne, whose name is unknown. This daughter had a son named Ariobarzanes, who had a daughter named Stratonice, who married Antiochus I Soter, a descendant of Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander’s generals. Antiochus I Soter and Stratonice had a son named Antiochus II Theos, who married Laodice I, a descendant of Achaeus, another general under Alexander. Laodice I and Antiochus II Theos had a son named Seleucus II Callinicus, who married Laodice II, a descendant of Spitamenes, a Sogdian warlord. Laodice II and Seleucus II Callinicus had a son named Seleucus III Ceraunus, who married Ptolemais, a daughter of Ptolemy III Euergetes and Berenice II. Ptolemy III Euergetes and Berenice II were both descendants of Ptolemy I Soter, another general under Alexander. Ptolemais and Seleucus III Ceraunus had a son named Antiochus III Megas, or Antiochus III The Great. Antiochus III The Great married Laodice III, a daughter of Mithridates II, king of Pontus. Laodice III and Antiochus III The Great had a son named Antiochus IV Epiphanes, or Antiochus IV The Illustrious. Antiochus IV Epiphanes married Laodice IV, his sister. La