Q: How did Adonis become a Greek god?
A: Note: If you already know the myth, you can skip to the bottom for
the "easy answer", which is in bold.
Here's the way I understand it:
It all started when Adonis's mother, Myrrha, was turned into a Myrrh
tree by Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Adonis, already conceived in
his mother's womb, was born from the tree after the incident.
Aphrodite, perhaps feeling guilty, sent the poor kid to live with her
friend Persephone, goddess of seasons.
Persephone lived with her husband, Hades, lord of the dead, so Adonis
grew up surrounded by the spirits of deceased mortals rather than an
actual living family. He eventually grew up to be a fit young man,
despite his unusual childhood. Both Aphrodite and Persephone fell in
love with him, and eventually their dispute was brought before Zeus,
king of the gods.
It was Zeus's decision that Adonis would spend one third of the year
with Aphrodite, one third of the year with Persephone, and one third
of the year doing whatever he wanted.
Aphrodite, being a love goddess, was able to convince Adonis to spend
his free time during the year with her as well. This whole scandal led
to a lot of tension with a lot of gods, namely:
Artemis: As a sworn virgin, Artemis was disgusted by Aphrodite and
Persephone's little spat.
Ares: As Aphrodite's only consistent sweetheart, Ares, was of course,
jealous of Adonis.
Apollo: Aphrodite blinded his son, Erymanthus, when he came upon
Aphrodite making love to Adonis in the forest.
According to which version of the story you're going by, one of the
gods sent a boar in order to kill Adonis.
The boar succeeded, and Aphrodite came too late to be of any help.
Where Adonis died, the Anemone flower sprang up, becoming his eternal
So, according to Greek mythology, Adonis is not a god.
Later poets, writers, and some cults, however, mistranslated portions
of the text, perhaps believing that every time he went down to the
Underworld to be with Aphrodite, he was actually dying, only to be
"reborn" four months later.
According to these cults, Adonis was, as usual, reborn after having
been killed by the boar, and continued to live on for eternity, as a
god of fertility and desire.
So, to answer this question:
**1. Technically, going by the original Greek myth, Adonis was just a mortal and died.
- According to later poets, writers, and cults, however, Adonis was at some point made immortal, and became the god of rebirth, fertility,
In the end, I think it's a matter of choice, depending on whether or
not you think a myth is defined by the original story, or changes as
different versions of it pop up.