Δευτέρα, 5 Σεπτεμβρίου 2011

Nepenthe




Then Helen, Zeus' daughter, thought of something else. She quickly dropped into the wine they were enjoying a drug which eased men's pains and irritations, making them forget their troubles. A drink of this, once mixed in with wine, would guarantee no man would let a tear fall on his cheek for one whole day, not even if his mother and his father died, or if, in his own presence, men armed with swords hacked down his brother or his son, as he looked on.
Odyssey Book 4
Nepenthe is a medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant – a "drug of forgetfulness" mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt.
The carnivorous plant genus Nepenthes is named after the drug nepenthe.

Description in the Odyssey

The word nepenthe first appears in the fourth book of Homer's Odyssey (verses 220–221):
... εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,
νηπενθές τ᾽ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
(4.220–221)
Figuratively, it means "that which chases away sorrow"; νη = ne = not, and πενθές = penthos = grief, sorrow, or mourning; so, literally, it means 'not-sorrow' or 'anti-sorrow'. In the Odyssey, Nepenthes pharmakon (i.e. an anti-sorrow drug) is a magical potion given to Helen by the Egyptian queen Polidamma. It quells all sorrows with forgetfulness.

Presumed ingredients

Many scholars think that nepenthe might have been an opium preparation, perhaps similar to laudanum. Alternatively, some believe it could have been an Egyptian wormwood elixir (see absinthe, history).
It is thought by some that nepenthe might have referred to a real-life opium preparation, perhaps similar to laudanum . However, this is speculation only, and others believe it referred to coffee.

In the Raven, a poem by Edgar Allan Poe there is a reference to "quaffing nepenthe" in order to forget a lost love. ("Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!")

Nepenthe is the name of a collection of poetry published in 1921 by Greek poet Kostas Karyotakis. It was his second collection.

Check out Nepenthes and Cannabis in Ancient Greece by Luigi Arata

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