Nepenthe pron.: // (Ancient Greek: νηπενθές) is a medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant – a "drug of forgetfulness" mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt.
Description in the Odyssey 
- ... εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,
- νηπενθές τ᾽ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
Figuratively, it means "that which chases away sorrow"; νη = ne = not (privative prefix), and πενθές from penthos = grief, sorrow, or mourning; so, literally, it means 'not-sorrow' or 'anti-sorrow'. In the Odyssey, Nepenthes pharmakon (i.e. an anti-sorrow drug) is a magical potion given to Helen by Polydamna the wife of the noble Egyptian Thon. It quells all sorrows with forgetfulness.
Presumed ingredients 
||This article needs additional citations for verification. (November 2011)|
Many scholars[who?] think that nepenthe might have been an opium preparation, perhaps similar to laudanum. Alternatively, some[who?] believe it could have been an Egyptian wormwood elixir (see absinthe, history) or Cannabis, as the active compounds THC and CBD are well soluble in an alcoholic drink like wine and the effects would fit the given description, because the effects are now even being investigated in a possible therapy for PTSD.
As described in literature the effects of nepenthe are similar to those of opiates. The therapeutic and side effect profile of nepenthe as reported may also very well be the result of some form of belladonna-type anticholinergic being present, that drug being well known for its amnesia and other properties, the former of which is considerably more potent than opium in this respect, and belladonna or separated alkaloids, especially scopolamine, were widely used in surgery and medical and dental procedures for many years before medium and short acting benzodiazepines such as alprazolam, diazepam, chlordiazepoxide, midazolam and others. The opioid-amnesic combinations are available from pharmaceutical companies or can be mixed on site; often third and fourth ingredients such as potentiators and anti-histamines are present as well. When used with morphine and a benzodiazepine mixture, scopolamine can be used for its broad spectrum of effects including decreasing glandular secretions like saliva.
In culture 
- In Edmund Spenser's The Faerie Queene, book 4, canto 3, the effect of the drink is extended: "such as drinck, eternall happinesse do fynd" (verse 43). Spenser likens Nepenthe to the magic potion from Ariosto's Orlando furioso.
- Erasmus mentions Nepenthe in the opening paragraphs of In Praise of Folly.
- Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Raven": "Quaff, oh quaff this kind Nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
- Norman Douglas's novel "South Wind" takes place on a fictional island named Nepenthe, which seems to exert a drug-like effect on the residents.
- Sentenced's song "Nepenthe" revolves around the wish to forget via alcoholic means "All the tears and the fears and the lies and the cries of the past."
- Uttered during host segment 1 by Bill Corbett's character Brain Guy in Season 9, Episode 1 (The Projected Man) of Mystery Science Theater 3000 as a protective invocation against angry ghosts, which turned out to be the howling hunger-pangs of Kevin Murphy's character Professor Bobo.
- The band Opeth wrote a song called "Nepenthe" on their album "Heritage".
- In H.P. Lovecraft's "The Outsider", "But in the cosmos there is balm as well as bitterness, and that balm is nepenthe." and "For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men."
- Kostas Karyotakis' second poetry collection was called "Nepenthe".