A Flora and Fauna of Symi

A personal guide to the wildlife of Symi and beyond

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Myrtle

December 4, 2015

This is Myrtus communis or common myrtle. It was brought to me by Agapatos from the Kafenion in the harbour. I have never seen this on Symi so I think this is a cultivated variant of the wild plant.

In Greek mythology and ritual the myrtle was sacred to the goddesses Aphrodite and also Demeter: Artemidorus asserts that in interpreting dreams “a myrtle garland signifies the same as an olive garland, except that it is especially auspicious for farmers because of Demeter and for women because of Aphrodite. For the plant is sacred to both goddesses. Pausanias explains that one of the Graces in the sanctuary at Elis holds a myrtle branch because “the rose and the myrtle are sacred to Aphrodite and connected with the story ofAdonis, while the Graces are of all deities the nearest related to Aphrodite.” Myrtle is the garland of Iacchus, according to Aristophanes, and of the victors at the Theban Iolaea, held in honour of the Theban hero Iolaus. Well there we are!

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