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In Greek mythology, Hyacinthus or Hyacinth (in Greek, Υάκινθος - Hyakinthos) was a divine hero, the son of Clio and Pierus, King of Macedonia, or of king Oebalus of Sparta, or of king Amyclas, also a Spartan. His cult at Amyclae, where his tomb was located, at the feet of Apollo's statue, dates from the Mycenean era.

He is the tutelary deity of one of the principal Spartan festivals, the Hyacinthia, held every summer. The festival lasted three days, one day of mourning for the death of the divine hero and the last two celebrating his rebirth.

In the myth, Hyacinth was a beautiful youth loved by the god Apollo. The two took turns throwing the discus, until Apollo, to impress him, threw it with all his might. Hyacinth ran to catch it, to impress Apollo in turn, and was struck by the discus as it fell to the ground and he died.

Another myth adds that the wind god Zephyrus was actually responsible for the death of Hyacinth. The boy's beauty caused a feud between Zephyrus and Apollo. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the radiant archery god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo's discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo didn't allow Hades to claim the boy; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. According to Ovid's account, the tears of Apollo stained the newly formed flower's petals with the sign of his grief. However, the flower of the mythological Hyacinth has been identified with a number of plants other than the true hyacinth, such as the iris.


Modern sources

  • Gantz, Timothy: Early Greek Myth, Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1993
  • Kerenyi, Karl: The Heroes of the Greeks, Thames and Hudson, New York/London, 1959