Unlike continental versions of the Venus and Adonis story, which tend to focus on the youth and in particular his killing by the boar, Shakespeare makes the goddess central to the poem. He may be following Ovid, recently given prominence in the English language. The tenth book of the Metamorphoses, known loosely as the song of Orpheus, arranges its love stories according to Venuss narrative. Another reason for her claiming a dominant role, and one that I am chiefly concerned with, may be that for Shakespeare the female is the figure best suited to express suffering. Nobody in the various French and Italian Renaissance versions of the myth (certain of which I cite or describe for comparison) gives Venus such importance. Some of them even repudiate her as a fit means of conveying pathos. However, despite the abundant levity of Shakespeares poem, an argument can be made for the suffering Venus. Not only does she grieve over the death of Adonis at the close the most obvious and extreme case of suffering but throughout the poem she undergoes various forms of anguish, from hopeless yearning for the unresponsive boy to unbearable apprehension of his actual end. I draw upon various mythographic accounts of Venus, along with those poetic ones that make use of the earlier mythological representations. I also compare the narrative structure of the poem to that of The Rape of Lucrece.