Rock carvings of Phoenicia’s god, Adonis, in Ghine village

Ghine village in the foothills above Jounieh, it rises from the sea between 850 to 1000 meters and is about 40 km from the capital. It is interesting for its Roman and Byzantine remains found at a place known as “Keb’al el-Hosain.” A well marked stepped path descends from the village, where you will find the ruins of a Roman temple that is the 5th century was made into a church with a mosaic floor. Nearby are rock-cut tombs with funerary bas reliefs above the entrances. One of the scenes is a Roman funerary rock carving representing a wild animal attacking a hunter. Local tradition says this is a representation of Phoenicia’s god, Adonis, being killed by a wild boar.

The legend: Aphrodite (Venus) and Adonis

At Byblos in Lebanon a beautiful baby boy was born and left without parents to care for him. Our Lady Aphrodite fell in love with him, and placed him in the care of the goddess of the underworld for safekeeping. Unfortunately when she went back to claim the boy, the other woman had also fallen in love with him and would not give him up. As a compromise it was agreed the boy would live half of the year with each of them. Nurtured by the love of these two women, he grew into a handsome and influential young man in the hills above Byblos. He became known as ‘adon, which meant “lord,” and then as Adonis.

Tragically, one of the male gods became jealous of Adonis. The rival changed himself into a wild boar and fatally gored the handsome young man. As Adonis lay dying in the arms of Aphrodite, drops of his blood spilled out and stained the anemone flower crimson red. When he was gone, Aphrodite went to the goddess of the underworld again to see if their bargain could be restored. Her outpouring of grief and love was so strong that it was agreed Adonis would live again. He would stay in the hills of Byblos for six months each year during spring and summer, and then return below for fall and winter.

In observance of these things, the river which coursed down from these hills to a place near Byblos was called the Adonis River (today, Nahr Ibrahim ). Each year when runoff from the Lebanon Mountains turned the river red, it was said to be the blood of Adonis. The crimson-red anemone continued to bloom there each year. And the grotto at Afqa  on the side of the mountain from which the Adonis River flowed became a place of pilgrimage.