Minthe

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In Greek mythology, Minthe (also Menthe, Mintha or Mentha; Greek: Μίνθη or Μένθη) was a naiad associated with the river Cocytus.

Etymology[edit]

The -nth- element in menthe is characteristic of a class of words borrowed from a Pre-Greek language: compare acanthus, labyrinth, Corinth, etc.

Mythology[edit]

Minthe was dazzled by Hades and made an attempt to seduce him, but Queen Persephone intervened and metamorphosed Minthe, in the words of Strabo's account, "into the garden mint, which some call hedyosmon (lit. 'sweet-smelling')".[1]

"Mint (Mintha), men say, was once a maid beneath the earth, a Nymphe of Kokytos (Cocytus), and she lay in the bed of Aidoneus [Hades]; but when he raped the maid Persephone from the Aitnaian hill [Mount Etna in Sicily], then she complained loudly with overweening words and raved foolishly for jealousy, and Demeter in anger trampled upon her with her feet and destroyed her. For she had said that she was nobler of form and more excellent in beauty than dark-eyed Persephone and she boasted that Aidoneus would return to her and banish the other from his halls : such infatuation leapt upon her tongue. And from the earth spray the weak herb that bears her name."[2]

Culture[edit]

In ancient Greece, mint was used in funerary rites, together with rosemary and myrtle, and not simply to offset the smell of decay; mint was an element in the fermented barley drink called the kykeon that was an essential preparatory entheogen for participants in the Eleusinian mysteries, which offered hope in the afterlife for initiates.[3]

References[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • Graves, Robert, (1955; rev. ed. 1960). The Greek Myths I (London: Penguin) 31.d (p 121), 31.d.note 6 (p. 124).
  • Grimal, Pierre, The Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Wiley-Blackwell, 1996, ISBN 978-0-631-20102-1. "Menthe" p. 286
  • Kerenyi, Karl, 1967. Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, pp. 40, 179f (Princeton: Bollingen)
  • Ovid: Metamorphoses X: 728–731
  • Smith, William; Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, London (1873). "Mintha"

External links[edit]