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For other uses, see Acanthus (disambiguation).

Acantha (Greek: Ἀκάνθα, English translation: "thorny") is often claimed to be a minor character in Greek mythology whose metamorphosis was the origin of the Acanthus plant.[1] The tale goes that Acantha was a nymph loved by the god Apollo. Acantha however rebutted Apollo’s advances and scratched his face when he tried to rape her. As a result Apollo transformed her into the Acanthus, a plant with spiny leaves.

The story has, over the years, been retold in books,[2][3] encyclopedias,[1] and journals.[4] It is notable however that Acantha is not mentioned in any classical source. Indeed the myth doesn't seems to appear until 1788 in John Lemprière's book Bibliotheca Classica.[5] In the first edition Lemprière provides no reference for the story. In the updated seventh edition three references are given however, on inspection, none actually contain the myth.[6] As such the tale appears to be a comparatively modern invention as opposed to a myth genuinely embraced by the Ancient Greeks.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Coulter and Turner, Encyclopedia of Ancient Deities, pg.62
  2. ^ Peter Parley, Tales about the mythology of Greece and Rome, pg.347
  3. ^ David Gledhill, The Names of Plants, pg.33
  4. ^ Charles Mackay, A Weekly Journal of Fact and Fiction, Volumes 1-13, pg.353
  5. ^ John Lemprière, Bibliotheca Classica (First Edition), Acanthus
  6. ^ John Lemprière, Bibliotheca Classica (Seventh Edition), pg.xxix