In Greek mythology, a beautiful youth, beloved by Venus and Proserpina, who quarreled about the possession of him. Jupiter, to settle the dispute, decided that the boy should spend six months with Venus in the upper world, and six with Proserpina in the lower. Adonis was gored to death by a wild boar in a hunt.

Shakespeare has a long poem called Venus and Adonis. Shelley calls his elegy on the poet Keats Adonais, under the idea that the untimely death of Keats resembled that of Adonis. The word Adonis is used, often ironically, for any beautiful young man. In one famous instance Leigh Hunt was sent to prison for libeling George IV when Regent, and calling him "a corpulent Adonis of 50."

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