While researching Taming Theron and A Spartan Love, I found all kinds of, for lack of a better word, myths about Sparta. Some are just minor things, such as trying to apply a modern mindset to an ancient culture and one that even its contemporaries considered strange. Others are the result of the other Greek city-states giving them bad press. No one really liked the bullies on the block.
So I thought I would start with a real myth and explore its origins.
First the myth. Hyacinthus was a prince of Sparta. Both Apollo and Zephyrus courted the beautiful young man, but Hyacinthus preferred Apollo. One day while Apollo and Hyacinthus were throwing a discus, Zephyrus, the West Wind, blew the disc off course in a fit of jealousy. The discus struck Hyacinthus in the head, killing him.
Apollo was heartbroken. He refused to allow Hades to take the prince to the Underworld. Instead, he gathered the youth's blood to create a flower, the hyacinth. Aphrodite, Athena and Artemis carried the divine hero's body to the Elysium Fields.
The likely origins. A tomb to Hyacinthus can be found near Apollo's altar and idol in the village of Amykles southwest of the modern city of Sparta and dates to the Mycenaean era. Most scholars consider Hyacinthus to be a local deity who predated the Spartan's and Apollo. His name with the suffix –nth shows him to be pre-Hellenic. (The Greeks called themselves Hellenes.)
When the Doric Spartans invaded the Peloponnesus, they brought their sky gods with them. The Spartans considered Apollo to be one of their patron gods. Since Apollo was one of the most likely to take a male lover, Hyacinthus was quickly accounted as his lover.
As is commonly the case when one god absorbs another's place and prerogatives, the older deity had to die. Hyacinthus met with an "accidental" death at another, although minor, sky god's hands. Apollo stepped in to fill the religious void, laying claim to Hyacinthus' sacred site and becoming known as Apollo Hayakinthios.