Curiosities about olive trees

Ancient legends about the olive tree


There are many ancient legends and myths in which the olive tree appears as a protagonist and from which we can understand why it is, par excellence, the symbol of peace, rebirth, glory and prestige.

One of the most famous and well-known is the Greek legend about the birth of the olive tree, also known as “the legend of the dispute between Athena and Poseidon,” in which it is said that it was one of the two deities who brought the majestic olive tree to Earth.

Or again, it seems that, according to a Roman legend, the olive tree was the tree under which two brothers were born, representing a fundamental pillar of Rome’s history.

But, going in order, let’s find out what these legends narrate.

The Greek Legend about the birth of the first olive tree

Greek legend has it that the first olive tree grew out of the rivalry between Athena and Poseidon for dominance in Attica.
The city would be assigned the name of the deity who would offer the most beautiful and most precious gift to humans. It was up to Zeus to choose one of the two.

Thus, Poseidon, struck the ground with his trident, and from there he raised the horse, a powerful, swift and mighty animal, capable of winning all battles.

Athena, on the other hand, struck a rock with her spear and brought forth a beautiful tree from the earth: the first olive tree. The tree was capable of illuminating the night, dressing wounds, curing diseases, and offering well-being and peace to all who cultivated it.

Zeus decided to reward the most peaceful and useful invention for man: he thus rewarded Athena, who became the patron goddess of Athens and mistress of Attica.
“Yougave men the olive tree, and with it you gave light, nourishment and an eternal symbol of peace,” Zeus said as he blessed the silver leaves of the olive tree.

From that time, the olive tree became the universal symbol of peace and prosperity, and it assumed a sacred character.

The Roman Legend about the Olive Tree

The olive tree also appears in several Ancient Roman legends. The most famous is the one that tells of the birth of Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.

According to this legend, the two brothers were born in the shade and under the protection of a tree: the olive tree.
It was for this reason that it became a symbol of glory for the Romans.

Laurel wreaths entwined with olive fronds were, in fact, awarded to the most valiant, important and meritorious citizens and to newlyweds during weddings.

For the Romans, the olive tree was a symbol of great prestige, and their high regard for this majestic tree made it the tree they planted in every conquered territory and developed its cultivation. For many decades, the conquered lands paid as tribute, the oil they produced.

In the past as well as today, oil has always been a valuable and unique food.

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