Venus and Adonis is a poem written by William Shakespeare. It is a story about the Greek goddess of love and her attraction to a man on Earth. Learn more about the story of Venus and Adonis and test your knowledge with a quiz.
Venus and Adonis
Venus and Adonis is a narrative poem, or a poem that tells a story, written by William Shakespeare from 1592-1593. It consists of 1,194 lines and is based on Ovid's Metamorphoses, a piece with contrasting views about the nature of love. The story is set in ancient Greece during the age of mythology, when the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus interacted with earthly humans.
When Venus and Adonis begins, Venus, the goddess of love, admires a young man named Adonis. Adonis, however, does not return her affection. Adonis was considered the perfect male; though he was young, he was strong and beautiful with no earthly equal. His beauty was a delight to the sun and wind, but he had no interest in love.
Venus came down to Earth because she was so in love with Adonis. She pleaded with him and carried him in her arms trying to gain his love. She talked to him about what it means to love and told him she could do a number of things for him if he loved her in return. When Adonis looked at her with scorn, Venus fainted and fell to the ground. Adonis was afraid he'd killed her, so he kissed her for forgiveness. She asked him for a second kiss, which he gave her.
Adonis would not agree to meet with Venus the following day because he wanted to go boar hunting. Venus had a vision that Adonis would be killed if he went boar hunting and begged him to meet with her instead. Adonis warned Venus about the difference between heavenly love and earthly lust and left her weeping.
The next day Venus went looking for Adonis and found his dead body killed by the boar he had hunted. Venus was heavily grieved. She knew that if Adonis was taken from her, man would never be happily in love again, and when people loved, there would be mistrust, fear, and grief. Adonis' blood saturated the Earth. From the soil of his blood, Venus made a white and purple flower to grow and left Earth brokenhearted.
Venus and Adonis is a story about a goddess's love for an earthly man. It was written by William Shakespeare and based on a story called Metamorphoses written by Ovid. Venus tried everything possible to get Adonis to return her affection and love; however, he only loved to hunt. Venus warned Adonis that he would be killed hunting but he would not listen. After Adonis' death, Venus was grieved and left Earth brokenhearted.
When the lesson ends, assess your preparedness to:
- Name the author of and source of inspiration for Venus and Adonis
- Summarize the poem