The pomegranate fruit has been used throughout history and in virtually every religion as a symbol of life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, and wealth.
pomegranate - pomegranate in Ancient & Modern Greece - thedelphiguide.com

The pomegranate fruit is assumed to have originated in Iran and Afghanistan and to have been cultivated since ancient times. It was used as a holy symbol and respected in zoroastrian worshipping ceremonies and rituals.The pomegranate symbolized the soul’s immortality and the perfection of nature for Zoroastrians.

It became a port of the Iranian mythology which tells that Esfandiyar became an invincible hero after he ate the pomegranate. Herodotus in «Histories» informs us that during the Persian Wars, the Persian soldiers carried spears adorned with golden and silver pomegranates instead of spikes.

The ancient Chinese believed the juice contained a «soul concentrate» which could confer immortality.

The Babylonians believed chewing the seeds before battle made them invincible.

The Hittite god of agriculture blessed followers with grapes, wheat and pomegranates.

The ancient Egyptians used to be buried with pomegranates. The loose thinking behind this custom was that the qualities of sexual energy and fertility that the blood red exterior and seedy interior of the pomegranate conveyed would help the interred Egyptian to be reborn.

in Ancient Greece

“A single fruit grew on that tree, a bright pomegranate fruit. Persephone stood up in the chariot and plucked the fruit from the tree. Then did Aidoneus prevail upon her to divide the fruit, and, having divided it, Persephone ate seven of the pomegranate seeds.”

-The Golden Fleece
by Padraic Colum (1881-1972)

In Greek mythology, the pomegranate was known as the «fruit of the dead» and believed to have sprung from the blood of Adonis.

Pomegranate features prominently in the myth of Persephone and her forced marriage to Hades the god of the Underworld.

Hades kidnapped Persephone and took her to the Underworld to be his wife. Demeter, Persephone’s mother and goddess of fertility, considering her daughter lost went into mourning and thus all things on earth ceased to grow. Zeus, Persephone’s father, commanded his brother Hades to release her.

Hades complied with the request, but first he tricked her: he offered her a pomegranate and she ate six seeds. Persephone was released by Hermes, who had been sent to retrieve her, but it was the rule of the Fates that anyone who consumed food or drink in the underworld was doomed to spend eternity there.

Persephone because she had tasted food in the underworld, she was obliged to spend a third of each year (the winter months) there, and the remaining part of the year with the gods above.

During these three months, while Persephone sits on the throne of the underworld beside her husband Hades, her mother Demeter mourns and no longer gives fertility to the earth. This was an ancient Greek explanation for the seasons.

The pomegranate plant is evergreen throughout the year, enabling thus the human mind to attribute to it the immortality of the soul. In time, the many seeds in a single fruit have come to stand for prosperity.

The pomegranate was also associated with the Greek goddess Hera; in Polykleitos’ cult image of Hera in the Argive Heraion, she is portrayed with a scepter in one hand and offering a pomegranate in the other as an emblem of fertile blood and marriage, and a substitute for the narcotic capsule of the opium poppy. In some Greek dialects, the pomegranate was called rhoa, thought to be connected with the name of the earth goddess Rhea, mother of Hera.

pomegranate in modern Greece

pomegranate

The pomegranate still has strong symbolic significance for the Greeks. At important festivals in the Greek Orthodox calendar, including Christmas Day, it is customary to adorn the table with pomegranates (known as «polysporia» meaning «many-seeded»).

On New Year’s Day it is traditional to break a pomegranate on the ground.

On moving into a new home, house guests traditionally bring pomegranates as a symbol of abundance, fertility and good luck for the new owner.

In the Greek Orthodox Church, pomegranate seeds are be used in kolyva, a dish prepared for memorial services, as a symbol of the sweetness of the heavenly kingdom.

This miraculous fruit is also a proven unique natural cosmetic. Well known Greek cosmetic companies, who base their products on natural ingredients, use pomegranate in many products for skincare and anti-aging properties!


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