Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Pomegranate

Pomegranate from the Latin pomum granatum, means “apple of many seeds”. Some say that this is the “apple” which eve was tempted with and gave to Adam. The pomegranate is native to Asia and naturalized in the Mediterranean .

As a Jewish symbol the pomegranate is a symbol of bounty, sustenance and power, all three attributes by which women are blessed. There are 613 seeds in a pomegranate which equals the number of mitzvoth in the Torah. It is also a symbol of fertility according to the first commandment      of the Torah, to be fruitful and multiply. In Arabic folklore it is a symbol for the female breast.

In modern Greece , it represents “agatha”, the good things of life. The Greek legend of Persephone, the pomegranate symbolizes fertility, death, and eternity. Pluto abducted Persephone to the underworld to set her on his throne, her mother Demeter-goddess of nature-was not happy. She grieved the world into famine so that Zeus was forced to intervene, requiring Pluto to restore Persephone to the earth. She had not eaten for in the interim. Alas, was as unhappy as she was and Persephone ate 6 pomegranate seeds to quench her thirst. The compromise was that Persephone would return to earth for 6 months, and then Hades for another six. Demeter obliged the weather to match her time, which is when the summer and winter were born.
For the Christians, the pomegranate is a symbol of hope and the Resurrection. The Romans imported pomegranates calling it “malum punicum” or “apple of Carthage .” The pomegranate was chosen as the logo for the Millennium Festival of Medicine because the pomegranate has been revered for its medicinal properties.
The “Garden Song” from the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics is this:
"The pomegranate speaks:
My leaves are like your teeth
My fruit like your breasts.
I, the most beautiful of fruits,
Am present in all weathers, all seasons
As the lover stays forever with the beloved,
Drunk on 'shedeh' and wine.

All the trees lose their leaves, all
Trees but the pomegranate.
I alone in all the garden lose not my beauty,
I remain straight.
When my leaves fall,
New leaves are budding.

First among fruits
I demand that my position be acknowledged,
I will not take second place.
And if I receive such an insult again
You will never hear the end of it...."

(The translation was based on Boris de Rachewiltz literal renderings into Italian of papyri and pottery dating back to 1567-1085 BCE)

No comments:

Post a Comment