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date: 20 March 2023



  • Robert Sallares


Honey (μέλι; mel), the chief sweetener known to the ancients, who understood apiculture (Arist.Hist. an. 623b5–627b22; Verg. G. bk. 4) and appreciated the different honey-producing qualities of flowers and localities. Thyme honey from *Hymettus in Attica was very famous, both for its pale colour and sweet flavour; Corsican, harsh and bitter; Pontic, poisonous and inducing madness (Dioscorides, Materia medica 2. 101–3). Honey was used in cooking, confectionery, and as a preservative. It was used in medicines, e.g. for coughs, ulcers, and intestinal parasites (Theophr. Hist. pl. 9. 11. 3, 18. 8). It had a very important role in religion, cult, and mythology. Its religious associations derive from the idea that it was a ros caelestis (‘heavenly dew’), which fell on to flowers from the upper air for bees to gather (Arist.Hist. an. 553b29–30). According to poets it dripped from trees in the *golden age (Ov.


  • Greek Material Culture
  • Science, Technology, and Medicine

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