HONEY IN ANCIENT YEARS
HONEY IN ANCIENT YEARS
If we go back to prehistoric times we will see that people knew how to take honey and use it both in their diet and as medicine. For centuries honey was the only known sweetener. The gods of Olympus fed on nectar and ambrosia. According to Hesiod and Pindar, Aristaeus, son of Apollo, god of music and harmony, and Cyrene, daughter of the king of the Lapiths, Ipseus, was the introducer of the cultivation of bees, grapes and olives, the protector of shepherds and of hunters, healer of medicine and divination. Aristaeus was born in Libya and Hermes, the messenger of the gods, took him to Gaia and the Hoare (Hours) to raise him. Kea is mentioned as the first location where Aristaeus taught the inhabitants of the island the beekeeping art. Aristaeus was therefore for the people of Kea, the first inventor of a series of useful arts, the most important of which was beekeeping.
THE BEE IN MYTHOLOGY
The bee holds an important place in the Greek tradition and in the life of the Greeks themselves. The Greeks realized from the early ages, the nutritional value of honey, that is why they considered it a divine food.
Melissa was the daughter of the king of Crete, Melissea, sister of Amalthea, with which they had to feed the newborn Zeus, with milk and honey. That is why Zeus was named Melissaios.
Apollodorus tells us an important myth of Glaucus who rose from the honey. Glafkos was the son of Minos and Pasiphae. As a child, chasing a sphere, or according to others, a mouse, he fell into a large container full of honey and drowned. Nobody knew where he disappeared. Then, they called Polydos, who was a famous omen-watcher, and with his advice Vellerofontis was able to tame the horse Pegasus. Trying to find the child, Polydos noticed that at the entrance of a basement an owl was chasing bees. In this basement he found the container with the honey and from there he took out the relic of Glafkos. Minos then asked him to revive the child and locked him in an empty tomb with him. Here Polydos saw a snake approaching the dead child and killed it. Soon another snake appeared which, seeing the first one killed, left and later returned bringing an herb which it spread it over the whole body of the killed snake, and it came back to life. With this herb, Polyidos brought Glafkos back to life.
Beekeeping was taught by Aristaeus, one of the most enigmatic figures of the ancient times, the fruit of the union of Apollo with the nymph Cyrene. Hermes handed him over to Hours and Gaia to be raised by dripping nectar and ambrosia on the lips of the baby, who thus became immortal! When he grew up, the Muses taught him divination and medicine. From the Nymphs Aristaeus learned arts such as beekeeping, which he later taught to humans.