A soft sketch of a hyacinth.

“Meditations on the Hyacinth” by cee

cee is a fourth-year student in the Honours English program at USask who likes reading, writing and eating movie theatre popcorn. cee enjoys thinking about mythology and adaptations, especially when it’s outside the purposes of writing an academic essay. “Meditations on the Hyacinth” is a reflection on the humanity of the gods, their love, jealousy and transformation.

Meditations on the Hyacinth

In some versions, it is Apollo who kills him. He kneels down at his wounded lover’s side and tries everything to fix him. It’s no use. Hyacinthus dies in his embrace, and Apollo wishes he could die with him. There’s no fixing that which makes them different.

In other versions, it is Zephyrus who gets the blame. It’s the jealous, godly wind who takes the disc to Hyacinthus’s head. You might think that detail changes the story, but the ending stays the same.

Apollo or Zephyrus — it all comes back to this: Hyacinthus on the ground, surrounded by the immortal lovers who killed him.

Or is it Hyacinthus himself who is to blame? Hyacinthus, in all his youth and joy, trying to catch a disc thrown by the hand of Apollo. In all his humanity, trying to survive the hand of a god. A fool in love.

The story is not as much about blame as it is about inevitability — humans are always casualties in the stories of the gods. And yet, Hyacinthus is more than just a casualty. His story is about love, jealousy and transformation. Why should the gods get all the attention? 

This is a story about humanity. 

Hyacinthus and Apollo, always destined to end up apart. Too different to make it work and loving each other despite it. 

Hyacinthus, trying to impress a god. Dying in his arms.

Apollo, afraid of hurting someone by loving them and being proved right. More human in that moment than if he could figure out how to die.

This piece is part of the in medias res March 2021 “Love” Issue. You can read the full issue under the tag “March 2021.”

Image by Ana Cristina Camacho