The Greek bucolic poet Bion (BI-uhn) was born in the village of Phlossa, near Smyrna, and later moved to Sicily. Almost nothing else is known of his life, and even the approximate times of his birth and death are based upon metrical analysis of his few surviving poems. He is often referred to as Bion of Smyrna to distinguish him from the philosopher Bion of Borysthenes. A verse epitaph to Bion was traditionally attributed to Moschus, a pastoral poet who was writing at about 150 b.c.e., but this poem is now considered to be later in origin.
Bion’s “Lament for Adonis,” his only surviving work to have had any appreciable influence on later poets, was written to celebrate the first day of the festival of Adonis, an important figure in Greek mythology. A handsome young man loved by the goddess Aphrodite, Adonis died in a hunting accident. According to one version of the myth, the gods, in order to comfort the broken-hearted Aphrodite, agreed to permit Adonis to leave Hades for six months of each year. Thus Adonis came to represent the cyclical nature of the cosmic order, and his death was associated with the annual change of seasons. The annual Athenian festival in his honor was held in late summer. Aside from Bion’s “Lament for Adonis,” some other works dealing with this myth are the fifteenth Idyl of Theocritus, the third book of The Library, by Apollodorus (second century
(The entire section is 540 words.)