|The poem Venus and Adonis by "William Shakespeare" is dedicated
to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton. In this erotic
poem, Venus and Adonis, the older Venus seduces the younger
"It is an adroit variation; where Ovid begins his tale with Adonis as a
son issuing from a tree, Shakespeare ends with a flower issuing
from Adonis, who thus becomes a father. Shakespeare’s Venus acts
out an extraordinary family romance. By imaging her lover as a
father, she makes herself into the mother and the flower into the
fruit of their union. But the logic of the imagery dictates that the
flower is her sexual partner as well as her child, for it clearly
substitutes for Adonis himself—she comforts herself with the
thought that it is a love-token, which she can continually kiss. The
fusion of lover and mother in the context of vegetative imagery
makes Venus in Myrrha once again. It is as if, having slept with
her father, the girl is now sleeping with her son."
"Venus’ problem is that she can’t actually rape Adonis, as Jove rapes
Danaë, Neptune Theophane, and Apollo Isse—but in the end the
poem shows that a sexual relationship based on coercion is
doomed. The inequality is highlighted by the difference in age of
the two characters; one function of the allusions to Adonis’ mother
is to suggest that the sexual dealings of partners of greatly
unequal age are bound at some level to replicate the archetypal
relations based on an unequal power-structure, incest between a
parent and child."
Jonathan Bate, Shakespeare and Ovid, pg. 57 and 64.
The word "incest" is found eight times in the works of "William
Shakespeare. The most frequent use is in Pericles, five times and
once in The Rape of Lucre, the companion poem to Venus and
Adonis. The most famous line, "A couch for luxury and damned
incest," is by Hamlet. The biography of Oxford presented here is
one answer to Freud's question of why Hamlet cannot kill Claudius:
because Hamlet is as guilty as Claudius of the sin of incest.
Shakespeare's Lost Kingdom for more insights into the works.