Ares & Aphrodite & Adonis & The Phoenix

Eros was out with Aphrodite, and the Goddess commented on the body of Ares as He practised His battle exercises, and pondered out loud to Her friend how exciting it would be to be in his arms and beneath Him. You see, as much as She loved and took satisfaction from doting on Her husband, Hephaistos, while the Smith of the Theoi had great arms, that was about it — he was dwarven and his spine crooked, and His face so far from conventionally attractive that His own parthenogenic mother was said to have thrown the quasimodian child from Olympos, crippling Him. Aphrodite alone saw a beauty in Him beyond the gifts He fashioned for Her, and truly loved Him, but He was merely a good husband: Reliable, well-providing, and They shared a bond almost familial. Ares, on the other hand, She suggested to Eros, would make a magnificient lover: Exciting, daring, and what She’d heard from mortal women was that what soldiers lacked in money, skills, and conversation, they made up for in bed.

Eros remarked that it was near Her birthday, and so if Ares was what She wanted….

Ares then approached the pair and poked fun at Eros’ delicate features and small arrows when compared to his own javelin. Eros’ then pulled one from His quiver and wished it an absurd weight for its metal. He handed it to Ares, saying, “This one is far heavier than it looks, try it and see.” Ares scoffed, and took the arrow, which he quickly learned surely must outweigh his own weapon in spite of being less than a third the length and a quarter its thickness. Realising He’d been tricked, his face became sour and he attempted to return it, saying, “It is too heavy, take it back.” Eros replied, “Keep it, it is a gift”, and Aphrodite smiled when Ares threw the empowered arrow to the ground in frustration, scratching His own foot with it as it landed.

The affair was conducted as any illicit affair, which for Aphrodite always remained exciting and worth every second They risked exposure — while Zeus’ affairs were no secret, as a married woman, Aphrodite was held to greater expectations of fidelity, and while She loathed the double-standard, She revelled in the excitement it created, always unsure of whether She feared or yearned for the affair to be found out.

Then Aphrodite learned of Her carrying of twins, at a time when clearly She would be unable to pass Them off as Her husband’s. As She fretted over this with the Kharietes, Hephaistos overheard, and devised a humiliation for the pair. Being not only a master craftsman, but also inventor, He was finished with His trap long before Aphrodite even began to show, and even managed the assistance of Apollon. When Aphrodite met with Ares in one of the magnificent rooms of Her palace built by Hephaistos, when the weight of their bodies combined (so as not to accidentally ensnare Kypris on her own) shiofted to the centre of the bed, a heavy net fell upon Them, and Apollon illuminated the room so that the outer wall was transparent, and all of Olympos could see Them in such a precarious state.

Aphrodite and Ares endured stares and pointed fingers and even laughter, and so when Ares and Aphrodite were finally freed, Ares flew into a rage, and took it out on Eros, for passing Him the arrow that made Him look a fool. In a panic to cease the beatings, Eros offered Ares and Kypris a compromise: He would convince Hera to grant Aphrodite a divorce, which would free the pair up to be together. Hera was receptive to this offer, but only if Aphrodite could find Hephaistos a suitable wife, so She arranged Hephaistos to be wed to Aglaia.

But Aphrodite is a fickle woman, and so after the birth of the twins, Phobos and Deimos, She bore Ares a daughter, Harmonia, conceived post-divorce, and soon grew weary of the soldier’s schedule, and took other lovers. Ares didn’t notice at first, then denied it when He did notice, until….

A young woman named Symrnah had offended Aphrodite for failure to honour the Goddess in Her due measure. in retaliation, She cursed the girl with a lust for her own father, driving the girl, in shame, to rape her father as he slept. He awoke and threatened Smyrnah, so she fled, and Eros took pity on the poor girl, and transformed her into a myrrh shrub, so that in death, she’d have no choice but to honour the goddess through the resin the bush produced.

One day out, when a priestess was harvesting myrrh resin, she cut into Smyrnah’s bush, and an infant began to push its head through the wound of the bark. Aphrodite came to see what was going on, and immediately claimed the child when She saw Him and then saw His future face, and saw He was destined to be quite lovely. To protect the child from Ares, She made an arrangement with Persephone, but as He grew up lovely, Persephone refused to give Him up to Aphrodite when She came to claim Him. Apollon offered to take in the youth as the women quarrelled, eventually taking the matter to Zeus, who suggested that a third of the year, the boy could live with Persephone, and for a third, He could live with Aphrodite, and the final portion of the year was for the youth Himself to decide.

Aphrodite chose to avoid the criticisms of Her affair with Ares by declining to marry Him after She and Hephaistos had their own dissolved; it just seemed easier, even though there was an assumption of exclusivity, what with the children and all. Still, Ares was jealous, so She and Persephone realised that Zeus only said “a third of the year”, He didn’t specify that it needed to be one-hundred-twenty days all in a row, so She made all attempts to arrange Adonis’ days with Her while Ares was away.

Still, word quickly came around to Ares that His beloved Aphrodite wasn’t keeping fidelity toward him; and to His own horror, He learned that this other man was a beautiful, effeminate youth who was said to be passed back-and-forth between Kypris and Kore like an accessory, and when not with them, would “lay as a woman” with Apollon, or so they said. Clearly, something would have to be done.

One day, when Aphrodite and Adonis were out in Her garden, Ares transformed Himself into a massive wild boar and charged the youth at full speed, goring vital organs and then tossing the boy into the air before turning around and taking off back to where He came from.

As Aphrodite wailed, tears poured from Her lovely face, and then Zephyros carried them as anemone poppy seeds on His breath, spreading and germinating the flower, creating a trail leading all to the torn body of the dying Adonis. When Ares came in His own form, Aphrodite recognised His eyes in the boar, and would not let Him touch Her. Persephone offered to take Him to the underworld, where His body remained lifeless while roses sprang up in the middle of the lettuce patch from the blood where the beauteous Adonis had died.

The following year, the Phoenix was due for renewal, and so began collecting myrrh resin for its egg. As it coaxed the beads of gum from the shrubberies, eventually it came upon Smyrnah’s bush, and dug its claws deep into the bark, which soon pulled out the long golden hairs of Aphrodite’s beloved youth, who soon after pulled himself from the wound in the wood, for it was the deep love bestowed upon Him in life that renewed Him, love deeper than that which Aphrodite gave to Ares, for Ares was known to be immortal, so He didn’t need it.

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One thought on “Ares & Aphrodite & Adonis & The Phoenix

  1. Pingback: It’s time for the weekly round-up of interesting links « The House of Vines

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