by Catherine Proppe 2014
This hymn both celebrates the miracle and mourns the tragedy of mortality: all mortals are born, and all mortals die. Adonis’ immortality stems from his being reborn again and again, year after year.
Traditionally, Adonis gardens of quick-growing herbs are ritually delighted over and mourned.
Some translators translate the name “Adonis” into English as “Hades.”
Adonis is beloved of Aphrodite. Aphrodite is the power that compels living beings toward one another in a desire to bond. Aphrodite delights in the offspring of her procreative power, and decries their cruel fate.
This hymn would likely be accompanied by the giggras (γιγγρας), a small fife of high pitch and plaintive tone, so named from Giggrees (Γίγγρης), the Phoenician name for Adonis, literally “earth’s grass.”
Phersephone is the Goddess of the afterlife and rebirth in Spring.
Kypros (Κύπρος) is another name for henna, an herb associated with weddings. The Kyprian is an epithet of Aphrodite.
Gaia is the Goddess of generative earth.
The hymn ends with an invitation for initiates to bring forth first-fruit offerings.
56. Ἀδώνιδος, θυμίαμα ἀρώματα.
To Adonis, With an offering aromatic
Κλῦθί μου εὐχομένου, πολυώνυμε, δαῖμον ἄριστε,
Hearken my entreaty, innumerable power supreme,
ἁβροκόμη, φιλέρημε, βρύων ὠιδαῖσι ποθειναῖς,
Richly-tressed, kiss-bereft, bursting forth tender longing
Εὐβουλεῦ, πολύμορφε, τροφεῦ πάντων ἀρίδηλε,
Pure-willed, myriad-shaped, nutrient for all manifest,
κούρη καὶ κόρε, σὺ πᾶσιν θάλος αἰέν, Ἄδωνι,
Daughter and son, synchronized all, eternal, Adoni: arising life.
σβεννύμενε λάμπων τε καλαῖς ἐν κυκλάσιν ὥραις,
Light extinguished, then reborn, in circling seasons,
αὐξιθαλής, δίκερως, πολυήρατε, δακρυότιμε,
Arising sprout, Dike’s rose, much-beloved, honored with tears,
ἀγλαόμορφε, κυναγεσίοις χαίρων, βαθυχαῖτα,
Glorious-bodied, leader of the chase, uplifting, deep-rooted,
ἱμερόνους, Κύπριδος γλυκερὸν θάλος, ἔρνος Ἔρωτος,
Charming, sweet henna’s offspring, tender Erotos,
Φερσεφόνης ἐρασιπλοκάμου λέκτροισι λοχευθεῖς,
From Phersephone’s lovely-tressed bed flows birth divine,
ὃς ποτὲ μὲν ναίεις ὑπὸ Τάρταρον ἠερόεντα,
Dwelling beneath in Tartaros’ air,
ἠδὲ πάλιν πρὸς Ὄλυμπον ἄγεις δέμας ὡριόκαρπον·
And then back before the Olympians uplifting a frame of seasonal fruit.
ἐλθέ, μάκαρ, μύσταισι φέρων καρποὺς ἀπὸ γαίης.
Come, blessed mystae, bearing fruit of Gaia.
The Anemone fulgens, also called the scarlet windflower, is the brilliantly red, spring-blooming Adonis-flower. “ . . . chop up the roots in small pieces with a spade and spread it all about the [garden] bed, and the more this is done, the more freely and faster will this anemone grow and bloom.” (Country Life, May 10th, 1902, Vol. 11, http://books.google.com/books?id=UDROAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA604&lpg=PA604&dq=Anemone+fulgens+adonis&source=bl&ots=j3C8QEDTWc&sig=vGWPuoBjWGDt6viXiJjE5DYhI8Y&hl=en&sa=X&ei=KRcCU6W0LcSEyAGimID4DQ&ved=0CEoQ6AEwCQ#v=onepage&q=Anemone%20fulgens%20adonis&f=false )
The Lament for Adonis, by Bion, immortalizes the Adonia festival of grief. http://books.google.com/books?id=IMrCpKxmgCUC&q=adonis#v=snippet&q=adonis&f=false
“I cry woe for Adonis and say The beauteous Adonis is dead; and the Loves cry me woe again and say The beauteous Adonis is dead …
“ … for the red blood drips down his snow-white flesh, and the eyes beneath his brow wax dim; the rose departs from his lip …
“ … the beauteous Adonis is dead, and Echo ever cries her back again, The beauteous Adonis is dead.
“[Aphrodite mourns:] ‘Awake Adonis, awake for a little while, and give me one latest kiss, kiss me all so long as ever the kiss be alive, till thou give up thy breath into my mouth and thy spirit pass into my heart…’
“‘O Persephone, take thou my husband, take him if thou wilt; for thou art far stonger than I…’
“The Paphian weeps and Adonis bleeds, drop for drop, and the blood and tears become flowers upon the ground. Of the blood comes the rose, and of the tears the windflower.
“I cry woe for Adonis, the beauteous Adonis is dead."