Venus, Goddess of Love, is playing with her son Cupid and is pricked by one of his arrows. Under its influence, she sees the beautiful mortal Adonis and is consumed with passion for him. She ambushes him while he is on his way to the hung and attempts to seduce him. She conjures a mare to captivate his horse and it follows the mare into the forest, leaving Adonis trapped with no means of leaving. All day long she tries to persuade him to make love to her, offering him freely all the delights of her divine body but he remains impervious.
As evening falls, he agrees to kiss her farewell hoping that this will satisfy her so that he can escape to his friends and prepare for the next day’s hunt. Driven to new heights of arousal by the kiss and frantic at the thought that he may be killed the following day, she once again attempts to force herself on him, but is again unsuccessful and he escapes.
The following day she hears the sound of the hunt and searches for Adonis. She follows the sounds of the horns and finds a boar at bay, tusks dripping with blood. She is confronted by Death, whom she berates. Hearing the horns, she apologises to Death for her mistake but at that moment sees Adonis with his side ripped open. As she watches, his body melts away and a white flower, speckled with the red of his blood, grows where he lay. She is distraught and fortells that all love will now be tainted with jealously; it will be fickle and false, making fools of both men and women. It will be the cause of war and from that day forth those that love the most shall enjoy it the least. She fades away into the forest.