Adonis (ςΑδωνις, prob. from a Phoenician form of the Hebrew אָדוֹן, lord), was, according to Apollodorus (3, 14, 3), the son of Cinyrus and Medane, or, according to other accounts (Hesiod and Panyasis in Apollod. ut sup. 14), of Phoenix and Alphesibcea, or of an Assyrian king, Theias, by his own daughter, Smyrna, who was changed into a myrrh-tree (σμύρνα) in endeavoring to escape her father's rage on discovering the incest. The beauty of the youth made him a favorite with Venus, with whom he was permitted to spend a portion of each year after his death, which occurred from a wound by a wild boar in the chase. (See Smith's Dict. of Class. Biog. and Mythol. s.v.) This event was celebrated by a yearly festival, originally by the Syrians, who called a river near which the fatal accident occurred (Reland, Paloest. p. 269) by his name (Robinson's Researches, new ed. 3, 606), and thence by all the nations around the Mediterranean. See Braun, Selecta Sacra, p. 376 sq,; Fickensecher, Erklar. d. Mythus Adonis (Gotha, 1800); Groddeck, Ueb. d. Fest des Adonis, in his Antiquar. Versuche (Lemberg, 1800), p. 83 sq.; Moinichen, De Adonide Phoenicum (Hafn. 1702); Maurer, De Adonide ejusque cultu (Erlang. 1782).
The Vulg. gives Adonis as a rendering for Tammuz or Thammuz (תִּמּוּז; Sept. Θαμμούζ), a Syrian deity, for whom the Hebrew idolatresses were accustomed to hold an annual lamentation (Eze 8:14). This idol was doubtless the same with the Phoenician Adon or Adonis, and the feast itself such as they celebrated. Silvestre de Sacy thinks that the name Tammuz was of foreign origin, and probably Egyptian, as well as the god by whom it was borne. In fact, it would probably not be difficult to identify him with Osiris, from whose worship his differed only in accessories. The feast held in honor of Tammuz was solstitial, and commenced with the new moon of July, in the month also called Tammuz. It consisted of two parts, the one consecrated to lamentation, and the other to joy; in the days of grief they mourned the disappearance of the god, and in the days of gladness celebrated his discovery and return. Adonis or Tammuz appears to have been a sort of incarnation of the sun, regarded principally as in a state of passion and sufferance, in connection with the apparent vicissitudes in its celestial position, and with respect to the terrestrial metamorphoses produced, under its influence, upon vegetation in advancing to maturity. (See Lucian, De Dea Syra, § 7, 19; Selden, De Diis Syris, 2, 31; Creuzer, Symbolik, 4, 3.) SEE TAMMUZ.