Year 12 | 28 January 2020 | TO ENTER | TO REGISTER

Only a virgin could give us the extra virgin oil

Marino Niola tells us about the mythological exploits of Athena. It was a popular jury panel, mostly composed of women, to decree the success of the shrewd and chaste daughter of Zeus

Marino Niola

It was necessary a virgin to create the extra virgin oil. This was the idea of Greeks that ascribed the born of the olive tree to the goddess Athena, the chaste daughter of Zeus.

The holy warrior was competing with the Uncle Poseidon for the right to give the name to the most important city of the Hellas. To deserve this title, they both offered a precious gift. First, the God of seas hit the land with the trident producing a pound of salty water; he was offering the dominion of the seas.
At this offer the shrewd virgin replied with a genial idea. She created the first olive tree. In front of that tree full of green fruits, the popular jury panel, mostly composed by women, had no doubt: they assigned the victory to Athena. In this way she linked forever her name to Athens, the city symbol of the western democracy. Then, the myth gives to the olive tree and the oil both a food and political value.

Marino Niola

From: Marino Niola, Si fa presto a dire cotto. Un antropologo in cucina, il Mulino, Bologna 2009

by T N
05 july 2010, Food Notes > Food Tourism