The ancient Greeks considered honey a gift from the gods while the bee and honey play a leading role in Greek mythology, customs and traditions.
Honey has been a symbol of fertility, happiness, well-being and inspiration while the bee has been used as a symbol of colonization, prosperity and abundance over the centuries.
The mythology of each people captures its collective memory long before history came to record the events in a scientific way. Thus, Greek mythology with its numerous references to honey and the bee allows us to conclude that in the early stages of Greek history the value of honey in the human diet had been duly appreciated, while the bee had won human admiration for its valuable work. The mythological reference to the use of honey for the upbringing of the king of the gods, Zeus, is not accidental.
The bee, a small but miraculous insect, was given an important place among the protagonists of Greek Mythology and art due to its usefulness which was recognized very early by humans. Myths and realities, gods and demigods, nymphs and people, divine figures create myths giving the bee and the value of honey a prominent place in Greek Mythology. Honey as an exquisite food “divine” and “heavenly” was worshiped because of its nutritional and healing properties. Offer longevity and the hope of eternity to gods and men through the purification of soul and body from every error.
There are many written references to honey or bee. Some are indicative.
- The bee is deified. She is the nymph, to whom Rhea delivered the infant “Cretan” Zeus.
- Bees, the priestesses of the goddess Demeter, Artemis, Cybele and Persephone.
- The Odyssey mentions the fine drink “Melikraton” a mixture of honey and milk.
- In Sparta, educators and trainees lived in Taygetos for a month, eating only honey.
- Aristotle built a glass hive to see how bees work, while his writings highlight the bee society as an ideal state.
- Hippocrates, Pythagoras and Democritus excel in the beneficial properties of honey, noting the tonic, well-being and longevity it offers to the healthy and the sick.