Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Birth of Adonis

 George Dunea

In his version of an ancient Greek myth, Ovid tells what he calls the horrible story of Myrrha developing an incestuous passion for her father, the king of Cyprus. After becoming pregnant, she flees to escape punishment and appeals to the gods to take pity on her. She is transformed into a myrrh tree, whose bark later bursts open to give birth to Adonis.

According to legend, the tree has ever since shed tears in the form of aromatic myrrh. It should also be mentioned that in another myth Adonis was so handsome that he caused Venus to fall in love with him, but neglected her warnings and is fatally gored by a boar.

Marcantonio Franceschini (1690), The Birth of Adonis,
Dresden State Museum
Sebastiano del Piombo. Museo Civico, La Spezia
Titian (detail) National Gallery, London

George Dunea, MD, Editor-in-Chief.

Highlighted in Frontispiece Spring 2016 – Volume 8, Issue 2

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