Adonis, an incredibly handsome young man, was the offspring of the incestuous union of King Cinyras of Paphos, in Cyprus, and his daughter Myrrha. Adonis was handsome and a good hunter. He believed that he is invincible and nothing can do any harm to him. He was young, but not at all interested about love and women. His only joy was in hunting and riding over the hills and fields after the deer and the fox.
One day Venus, the goddess of love, while playing with her boy Cupid, unknowingly scratched her bosom with one of his arrows. Before it healed, she accidentally saw Adonis and fell in love with him. In fact, she became mad for him and desired him for his charm and beauty. As her infatuation and lust for Adonis got out of control, she left heaven and followed the man of her desire. While Adonis was riding out to hunt, Venus urged him to talk to her and tied his horse to a tree. She tried her best to persuade him, as she talked of love and craved for a kiss. Adonis was, however, not interested and prepared to leave. Venus wanted to see him again on the next day, while Adonis refused and said that the next day he would be going out to hunt a wild boar. Struck with a vision, the goddess tried her best to dissuade him, warned him and asked him not to attack the beats that Nature has armed with weapons.She begged him, again and again, to meet her instead. She threw herself on the young man in a last attempt to gain his love. Adonis did not pay any heed to her request.
The next morning Venus, while wandering through the woods in search of Adonis, could hear from a distance the barking of the dogs and the voices of the hunters. Totally panicked because of her vision of the dead Adonis, she immediately rushed through the forest to follow the sounds of the hunt, saw a wounded and bleeding dog, and finally came upon the body of Adonis, killed by the fierce wild boar that he had hunted. Venus was devastated. She thought that, where ever there is love, there would always be suspicion, fear, and sadness.
Adonis’ body has grown cold and pale. His blood gave color to the plants all around him. A flower of bloody hue grew from the soil beneath him. It was like the blood that sprouted in Adonis’ skin.
The story of Venus and Adonis, based on Ovid’s Metamorphoses, attracted not only the painters of repute, but also poets, including Shakespeare.