Monday, November 14, 2011

Mythology Mondays

I've been reading all fall about food and I thought it was only fitting that when Mythology Mondays finally returned it would be to help wrap up Fall Feasting.

One can hardly talk about mythology and food without first talking about their apparent favorites: ambrosia and nectar. One can hardly imagine that the ambrosia referenced in mythology has any similarity to the salad pictured above. How in the world did a food that supposedly conferred immortality come to mean a fruit salad? I'm all for fruit, chopping it up and throwing different kinds together, and maybe even some kind of dressing. But I can hardly look at it and imagine it to be the food that Hera used to cleanse defilement from her body. Clearly this was not your ordinary ambrosia of grapes, apples and mandarin oranges!

Now nectar is, evidently, something we should all be having more of. The very roots of the word mean overcoming death. I'm not sure the Greeks had any idea how true that might be. Only recently have the antiseptic and antibacterial properties of honey, which is made from nectar, been discovered. Bacchus, god of wine, was probably your go-to guy if you were looking for the best nectar and in Norse mythology you'd find Odin and Saga enjoying the drink of immortality in golden cups.

There are rarely gods or goddesses that appear in mythology strictly as being in charge of food. More often there is a break down of the various parts of getting food to the table. For instance, the Greeks have Ceres, how is the goddess of the harvest. Ceres had several lessor gods who helped her get the harvest from the fields to those who would ready it for the table (Lactanus made the crops prosper and Insitor invoked at the sowing of the crops). Fornax was in charge of the food once it got to the oven, Molae was in charge of overseeing the grinding of the grain and Pomona was the goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards. In Latin mythology, the food was the charge of matrones who always appear in images in groups of three with one almost always holding a bowl of fruit.

I suppose it says a great deal about the state of the world that there are far more gods and godesses related to war, love and procreation than there are to food. Apparently, if they got the gods or goddesses to take care of the weather issues, they must have felt they were capable of handling the rest on their own. Perhaps they weren't so different from us after all.


  1. The ambrosia I am used to looks a little different than that, and is filled with marshmallows and coconut and pineapple, but yes, I agree, it is probably very different than the ambrosia of the ancients. I love that you took the time to share this with us, and that your imaginings and comparisons are so thoughtful and intelligent. Thanks for giving me something to think about today~!

  2. Don't forget the marshmallows! All the ambrosia I've even seen has had mini-marshmallows. *shudder*


  3. I think there should be more dedicated to food...we may all be a bit fatter but more peaceful!