In Venus and Adonis, is lust presented in an entirely negative light?
In one sense, of course, there is a certain strength in the argument of Venus, because it is through rejecting her and going on his boar hunt that results in the death of Adonis. However, it is important to examine what Adonis himself says about lust when he lectures the goddess on the difference between earthly lust and heavenly love. The irony of a mortal lecturing the goddess of love about the true nature of love should not be ignored. Note the distinction that Adonis draws between love and lust:
Love comforteth, like sunshine after rain,
But lust's effect is tempest after sun.
Love's gentle spring doth always fresh remain;
Lust's winter comes ere summer half be done.
Love surfeits not; lust like a glutton dies,
ove is all truth, lust full of forged lies.
The contrast is made clear through the opposition between these two terms: Adonis is correct to not give in to the advances of Venus because they represent lust and not love. As Adonis himself says, "I hate not love, but your device in love..." He instinctively recognises that lust will only bring sadness and grief, and is holding out for the real thing, rather than the mere appearance of love, which so many confuse with lust. It is hard to escape the conclusion therefore that lust is presented in a very negative light in this poem, with true love being shown to be the ideal.