Get to Know Hyacinth of Greek Mythology
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In Greek mythology, there are many different players in the stories. Most of us think that the main players were the gods and goddesses, but this isn’t always the case. There are some other characters, such as Hyacinth, who played a role. Here’s more information about who Hyacinth was and how he reacted to the stories:
Hyacinth – Prince of Sparta
Hyacinth was generally said to be a prince from Sparta. His good looks attracted not only Apollo, but also the North wind Boreas, the West wind Zephyrus, and a mortal named Thamyris. Hyacinth preferred Apollo over the others, which angered Zephyrus. Some accounts of Hyacinth’s death say that Zephyrus killed Hyacinth in a jealous rage by conjuring a gust of wind that caused the discus to strike Hyacinth in the head.
Scholars of classical mythology believe that Hyacinth was a nature god whose appearance predated that of classical Greece, which had developed around the time of Alexander the Great’s death in 323 BC. Hyacinth may have originally been a vegetation deity whose cult was merged with that of Apollo.
Story of Hyacinth
Hyacinth or Hyacinthus was a beautiful young man who had been Apollo’s lover. He was killed while playing with a discus. Depending on the story, his death was either an accident or was murder. Versions of each of these stories exist in Greek mythology. The one thing that the stories share is that a special flower, that we now know as the Hyacinth, grew where the blood was spilled. Apollo inscribed the words AI, AI or “Alas” on the petals.
Cult of Hyacinth
Apollo later succeeded in resurrecting Hyacinth as a minor deity, and he became the center of one of the more important festivals held in Sparta. It was called Hyacinthia, and it was celebrated during the month of the same name. Hyacinthia took place during the early summer and lasted three days.
The celebrants mourned Hyacinth’s death during the first day, and they celebrated his resurrection during the other two days. Thus, during the first day, the celebrants did not sing and ate very little. On the second day, boys and young men formed choirs and sang and dance.
Some of the girls drove and even raced chariots pulled by two horses, while other girls were carried in wicker carts. Women presented a chiton or tunic that they had made as an offering to Apollo. Scholars aren’t sure what happened on the third day, but they believe the Spartans held mysteries or secret rituals on that day. The festival also honored Apollo, with whom he shared a shrine in Amyclea.
Hyacinth is one of those figures from Ancient Greece that had a minor, but important role in some of the stories. He was especially associated with Apollo. Believed to be his lover, he was eventually murdered. A special flower grew where his blood spilled.
Categorized in: Greek Mythology
This post was written by Greek Boston