Powerful Pomegranate


“But if [you tasted food], returning beneath [the earth,] you will stay a third part of the seasons [each year] … By what guile did the mighty Host-to-Many deceive you?” the Goddess Demeter asked her daughter Persephone in the The Homeric Hymn to Demeter (As translated by Helene P. Foley).

From the featured photo today, if you guessed that the food that Hades (the “Host-to-Many”) fed to Persephone was pomegranate seeds, you are correct. Hades’ cunning action condemned Persephone to spend part of each year in the Underworld as his wife. Pomegranates have been cultivated throughout the Mediterranean for thousands of years.

Scholars believe that they were brought to Sicily by both the Phoenicians and the Greeks, not only for food, but also for religious reasons because in these ancient cultures, pomegranate seeds represented fertility, prosperity, abundance, and generosity. And, now in literature and art, because of the Persephone myth, they also represent the cycle of life and death, for when Persephone goes to the underworld, she brings the seeds with her into the depths of the Earth, and in spring when she returns to the surface with seeds in hand, she brings renewed life and abundance.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. I love pomegranates and have a friend who is from Iran (Persia) and she cooks with them all the time. As a result, I love Persian food. Do Sicilians cook with pomegranate seeds? The photo of the broken open pomegranate is very sensuous.

    1. You’ve asked a very good question Dana! Yes, seldom they do–not nearly as much as Persians. Now that I’ve written this post, I’m going to be paying much more attention to this ingredient and how it’s used.

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