Athena's Gift

by Kathy Davis

The ubiquitous olive, is the fruit of the Gods. Athena, for whom Athens was named, is known to have brought the olive to the Greeks as a gift. She planted the first tree on a rocky hill that is now known as the Acropolis.

It is native to Asia Minor, and made its way from Iran, Syria and Palestine to the Mediterranean six thousand years ago. Zeus offered any God or Goddess all of Attica if they could discover a commodity that could produce the most revenue in all of the ancient lands.

It was the Phoenicians who spread the olive to the shores of Africa and Southern Europe.
The Minoans credited their wealthy empire to the production of olive oil,for it was Crete's largest export to the ancient world.

Athena's gift had a variety of uses such as lighting lamps in antiquity and anointing the early Christians' heads in baptisms. The olive also has an indespensable list of medicinal uses such as anti inflammatory properties to combat diabetes,asthma and cancer.Women of the ancient world used it cosmetically as well. Feral olive shrubs in the Middle East are related to original olives of the ancient world.

Our modern world would make Athena and Zeus proud by our heightened appreciation and capitalization of their legacy for the greater good. Few commodities can be realized from antiquity as beautifully and comprehensively as the fruit of the Gods.

Eat, drink and savor the olive in any of its forms, for we are blessed to be able to enjoy Athena's gift, and of course, Zeus would approve.


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