4 years ago, I started a series of my 3 picks for the most beautiful love stories in the ancient Greek Mythology. I quickly finished 2 stories but then have never found inspiration to finish the 3rd one.
However, it’s kind of ironic for me that no matter how much I try to brand myself as a “travel & lifestyle blogger”, my most popular content is still the Greek Myth love. Probably it is because more than ever, love is what we are in need in this ugly world of conflicts and selfishness. Hopefully, when all the thirst for money and power reaches its limit, humans will eventually come back to the basics that they have forgotten along the way: love, and humanity.
Before going into the 3rd story, don’t forget to go through my 2 previous posts:
This is my favorite romance of all time. It’s the story about a strong-willed princess fighting for her love. According to me, it’s this mortal girl Psyche, but not any immortal goddess, the bravest and most decisive female character in the whole legend. Her story is utterly beautiful, which reminds us how love can create wonderful and incredible things in this world.
Orpheus is a very unusual type of hero in the Greek Myth, also my favourite male character. He is not a muscular wrestler who built glory upon killing and blood, but a musician whose incredible music talent touched the heart and soul of everybody and everything in the universe. The love story though is a tragedy, it’s just as beautiful as the music of the legendary Orpheus himself, the greatest musician in the history of the entire mankind.
3. Adonis and Aphrodite:
Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty, the one and only that has supreme power over every human being and immortal god, amazingly also has to suffer from the same “trouble” that she brings to this world. Just like her son Cupid (Eros), who fell in love with Psyche as if he had shot himself, Aphrodite loved Adonis as if she had been spelled by her own power. Probably this is just another example to show that Love can’t be controlled, even by the God and Goddess that are supposed to command it.
Adonis, arguably the most beautiful male figure in the Greek Mythology, came from a very complicated background.
Most stories agreed that he was conceived out of the incest between princess Myrrha and her father, king Cinyras of Cyprus. However, there are a few versions on how this incestuous intercourse happened. Some said Myrrha fell in love with her father and tricked him into sexual intercourse. Others involved Aphrodite’s wrath over the king and queen for boasting their daughter’s beauty. And Myrrha, surprisingly, is an inspiration for a lot of poems, plays and paintings. Wikipedia’s page on Myrrha is very detailed on how her sin and tragic life was portrayed in several legends across Arabia to Cyprus and ancient Greece.
Following the version edited by Nguyen Van Khoa, Myrrha was a daughter of king Cinyras of Cyprus. The king was blindly proud of his daughter’s beauty that he proclaimed his daughter was even more beautiful than Goddess Aphrodite. Angered, Aphrodite took his sanity and made him confuse his daughter with his wife. After giving birth to her son Adonis, Myrrha was immediately expelled from her father’s kingdom. She carried her infant from one place to another until exhausted, dying and turned into the myrrh tree. Aphrodite then felt pity for the girl and took the baby under her patronage. However, she didn’t raise Adonis but entrusted the new-born baby to Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld. Later one, when Aphrodite came to ask for her patronee back, Persephone refused for a reason that she couldn’t justify: Adonis was too beautiful, so beautiful that Persephone didn’t want anyone to take him away. The two goddesses had a big argument and had to take each other to Zeus. Zeus decided that Adonis would spend half a year with Aphrodite (spring and summer) and half a year with Persephone (autumn and winter). Some even said Zeus decided Adonis would spend 1/3 of the year with each goddess, the rest of the time was his own choice and he chose to spend it with Aphrodite.
Adonis’s beauty totally carried Aphrodite away. She was passionately in love with the beautiful boy that she forgot everything else including herself. She didn’t return to the Olympus, forgot all the ceremonies to honour her by mortals; instead she just wanted to be next to Adonis and followed him in everything he did. Adonis loved hunting and often went to the jungle for his hobby. Aphrodite, who was never fond of hunting, found herself in the forest with Adonis tracking animals instead of taking care of her graceful feminine appearance. No one else in the whole legend had such a power on the Goddess of Love and Beauty as Adonis did. She – the one who created enormous suffering for whomever she wanted to – now also understood what she made others going through.
Aphrodite, worried for Adonis’s safety, always told him to hunt only small and harmless animals, but on the only occasion that she couldn’t go with him to the forest, tragedy happened. Adonis forgot her advice and chased a wild boar. The boar killed him afterwards. Some said the boar was sent either by jealous Ares, the God of War and Aphrodite’s official husband, or by Persephone because Adonis loved Aphrodite more than herself.
Grieved by the news, Aphrodite walked into the forest to find her beloved. She climbed through mountains, dashed across jungles, got herself bleeding over thorny bushes and spiky rocks, but she didn’t feel the pain as her heart was already broken to pieces. She finally found Adonis lying dead on the soil and carried him back home for funeral. Legend had it that Adonis’s blood dropping on the way sprang the pretty anemones which often bloom in spring and die after a short while, and Aphrodite’s blood sprinkled on her journey to look for Adonis pigmented the white roses and turned them into velvet colour which symbolizes eternal love, beauty and youth.
Zeus, however, felt pity for the beautiful young boy letting him come back to life every spring to spend time with Aphrodite in the land of sunshine. Adonis and Aphrodite later on had a daughter, Beroe, who the capital city of Lebanon was named after.
Adonis’s birth-death-rebirth somehow resembles the cycle of nature when everything is revitalized in spring after a long gloomy ‘dead’ winter. That’s why love also has to be in full bloom in spring. No hearts should be broken in spring, because that is when Aphrodite welcomes back her most beloved.
All photos from the internet.