The Legendary Apple

The Greek hero Heracles, as a part of his Twelve Labours, was required to travel to the Garden of the Hesperides and pick the golden apples off the tree growing at its center.

The Greek goddess of discord, Eris, became disgruntled after she was excluded from the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. In retaliation, she tossed a golden apple inscribed Kallisti (‘For the most beautiful one’), into the wedding party. Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite. Paris of Troy was appointed to select the recipient. After being bribed by both Hera and Athena, Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta. He awarded the apple to Aphrodite, thus indirectly causing the Trojan War.

Atalanta, also of Greek mythology, raced all her suitors in an attempt to avoid marriage. She outran all but Hippomenes, who defeated her by cunning, not speed. Hippomenes knew that he could not win in a fair race, so he used three golden apples (gifts of Venus, the Goddess of love) to distract Atalanta. It took all three apples and all of his speed, but Hippomenes was finally successful, winning the race and Atalanta’s hand.

The Irish say that if an apple is peeled into one continuous ribbon and thrown behind a woman’s shoulder, it will land in the shape of the future husband’s initials.

Snow White is killed, or put into a deep sleep, by choking on a poisoned apple given to her by her stepmother. She is awakened by the kiss of the prince.

In Arthurian legend, the mythical isle of Avalon’s name is believed to mean ‘isle of apples’.

The Swiss hero William Tell is supposed to have shot an apple off his son’s head.

Any more apples in myth or legend?

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