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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.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Adonis, visit Britannica.com.