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Adon

by Ben White
A Phoenician dying and rising god associated with crops and the seasonal agricultural cycle. Popular during the Hellenistic period, the cult of Adon rose to prominence circa 200 BCE and persisted into Christian times, circa 400 CE. Major cult centers were located at Berytus, Aphaca 1, and Byblos 2.

According to one of several conflicting mythological accounts Adon is the son of Myrrha and consort of Ashtart. He was killed by a boar while hunting and thereafter condemned to spend part of each year in the underworld.

In late spring his sacred river, known today as Nahr Ibrahim, flows red from minerals stirred up by spring rains. It was at this time in the ancient Levant that his death and resurrection was celebrated by ecstatic priests and worshipers. During the first part of the festival the priests dressed effeminately and gnashed themselves with knives, beat their breasts, and made lamentations to mourning his death. This was followed by a joyous celebration of his new life, which included a ritual shaving of the head. According to Lucian the women could opt to serve for a time as cult prostitutes in lieu of having their heads shaved 3.

1. Jordan, Michael. Encyclopedia of Gods. Facts on File, Inc. New York, 1993
2. Lilinah biti-Anat. The Phoenician Deities. http://www.geocities.com/SoHo/Lofts/2938/punicdei.html
3. De Dea Syria [Concerning the Syrian Goddess], Lucian of Samosata. 2nd Century C.E., Ch. 6


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