Honey: Nutriment of the Gods

When Rhea was pregnant to Zeus, Gaia and Uranus advised her to give birth away from Cronus, so as to protect her son from the fate with which his five siblings had met, eaten up by her husband.

Following their advice, Rhea was led into Diktaion Andron, a cave located in the mountain range Dikti in Crete, where she gave birth to Zeus. She assigned the baby’s protection to Kuretes (chthonic daemons) and to the Orean Nymphs of Dikti.

The Nymphs Amalthea and Melissa, daughters of Melisseus – King of Crete, eldest and leader of the Kuretes -, fed Zeus with milk and honey.

Indeed, Melissa’s choice to bring up Zeus by feeding him with honey, was made in order for him to grow up sooner, so as to take his merited place among the Gods. Remarkably, Zeus’ name “Melitteus” was given to him in honor of his nurse.

Another interesting piece of information is that, according to tradition, the bees fed Zeus straight into his mouth, aided by Melissa’s grace who gave her name to this specific insect (“Melissa” is the Greek word for “bee”), as well as to all the other Nymphs who succeeded her as Zeus’ nurses.

Melissa’s punishment from Cronus was severe; when he found out that she was the one who helped Zeus stay alive, he transformed her into an earthworm. Zeus took pity on her and changed her again, this time into a bee.

Another Nymph with the same name (Melissa) discovered the art of beekeeping and the recipe of making hydromelon. She passed this knowledge down to the beekeeper Aristaeus, who was also a semi-god. In his turn, Aristaeus was assigned to teach it to humans.

Honey also constituted the drinking and nutriment of the Gods – nectar and ambrosia -, a fact which confirms the high esteem in which honey was held. So, if the Olympian Gods opted for it, you can only imagine the benefits it can offer to you!