/euh don"is, euh doh"nis/, n.
1. Class. Myth. a youth slain by a wild boar but permitted by Zeus to pass four months every year in the lower world with Persephone, four with Aphrodite, and four wherever he chose.
2. a very handsome young man.
[1615-25 for def. 2]

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In Greek mythology, a youth of remarkable beauty, the favorite of Aphrodite.

As a child he was put in the care of Persephone, who refused to allow him to return from the underworld. Zeus ruled that he should spend a third of the year with Persephone, a third with Aphrodite, and a third on his own. He became a hunter and was killed by a boar. In answer to Aphrodite's pleas, Zeus allowed him to spend half the year with her and half in the underworld. Mythically, Adonis represents the cycle of death and resurrection in winter and spring. He is identified with the Babylonian god Tammuz.

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 in Greek mythology, a youth of remarkable beauty, the favourite of the goddess Aphrodite (identified with Venus by the Romans). Traditionally, he was the product of the incestuous love Smyrna (Myrrha) entertained for her own father, the Syrian king Theias. Charmed by his beauty, Aphrodite put the newborn infant Adonis in a box and handed him over to the care of Persephone, the queen of the underworld, who afterward refused to give him up. An appeal was made to Zeus, the king of the gods, who decided that Adonis should spend a third of the year with Persephone and a third with Aphrodite, the remaining third being at his own disposal. A better-known story, hinted at in Euripides' Hippolytus, is that Artemis avenged her favourite, Hippolytus, by causing the death of Adonis, who, being a hunter, ventured into her domain and was killed by a wild boar. Aphrodite pleaded for his life with Zeus, who allowed Adonis to spend half of each year with her and half in the underworld.

      The central idea of the myth is that of the death and resurrection of Adonis, which represent the decay of nature every winter and its revival in spring. He is thus viewed by modern scholars as having originated as an ancient spirit of vegetation. Annual festivals called Adonia were held at Byblos and elsewhere to commemorate Adonis for the purpose of promoting the growth of vegetation and the falling of rain. The name Adonis is believed to be of Phoenician origin (from ʾadōn, “lord”), Adonis himself being identified with the Babylonian god Tammuz. Shakespeare's poem Venus and Adonis (1593) is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book X.

▪ Lebanese poet and literary critic
Arabic  Adūnīs , pseudonym of  ʿAlī Aḥmad Saʿīd 
born 1930, Qassabin, near Latakia, Syria

      Lebanese poet and literary critic who was a leader of the modernist movement in Arabic poetry in the second half of the 20th century.

      Adonis was born into a family of farmers and had no formal education until the age of 14, when he was enrolled in a French-run high school. He published his first volume of poems, Dalīlia, in 1950 and received a degree in philosophy at the University of Damascus in 1954. The following year he was imprisoned for six months because of his political views. Adonis then moved to Beirut, where in 1957 he helped Yūsuf al-Khāl found the avant-garde poetry review Shiʿr (“Poetry”). Among his early volumes of poetry are Qasāʾid ūlā (1956; “First Poems”) and Awrāq fī ar-rīh (1958; “Leaves in the Wind”).

      In the 1960s Adonis helped create a new form of Arabic poetry—one characterized by elevated diction and a form of complex Surrealism influenced by the work of Sufi (Ṣūfism) poets—with the publication of such works as Aghānī Mihyār ad-Dimashqī (1961; “Songs of Mihyār of Damascus”), Kitāb at-taḥawwulāt wa 'l-hijrah fī aqālīm an-nahār wa 'l-layl (1965; “The Book of Metamorphosis and Migration in the Regions of Day and Night”), and Al-Masraḥ wa 'l-marāyā (1968; “The Stage and the Mirrors”). In 1968 he launched the radical journal Mawāqif (“Positions”), which expanded its scope beyond literature to include political and cultural commentary. He also wrote innovative prose poems (prose poem) such as the influential Qabr min ajl New York (1971; “A Tomb for New York”). In 1973 Adonis received a Ph.D. from St. Joseph University in Beirut, after which he held faculty positions at various universities before settling in Paris in the mid-1980s. Adonis's Al-Kitāb (1995; “The Book”), which echoes the name of the Qur'an (Qurʾān), is a structurally complex work exploring Arab history from multiple perspectives. His critical essays were collected in Zaman ash-Shiʿr (1972; “The Time for Poetry”) and Ath-Thābit wa 'l-mutaḥawwil (1974; “Stability and Change”). English translations of selected poems appear in The Blood of Adonis (1971), The Transformation of the Lover (1983), and A Time Between Ashes and Roses (2004).

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