Nepenthe // (Ancient Greek: νηπενθές) is a fictional 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
ἔνθ᾽ αὖτ᾽ ἄλλ᾽ ἐνόησ᾽ Ἑλένη Διὸς ἐκγεγαυῖα:
αὐτίκ᾽ ἄρ᾽ εἰς οἶνον βάλε φάρμακον, ἔνθεν ἔπινον,
νηπενθές τ᾽ ἄχολόν τε, κακῶν ἐπίληθον ἁπάντων.
Figuratively, nepenthe means "that which chases away sorrow". Literally it means 'not-sorrow' or 'anti-sorrow': νη, ne, i.e. "not" (privative prefix), and πενθές, from πένθος, penthos, i.e. "grief, sorrow, or mourning". In the Odyssey, in the passage quoted above, 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.
- νηπενθές. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
- Homer; Murray, A.T. (translator) (1919). "4.219-221". Odyssey. "4.219-221". Homer, Odyssey (in Greek). At the Perseus Project.
- νη-. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
- πένθος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.