LOTOPHAGI

21 May

In Greek mythology, the Lotophagi (Greek Λωτοφάγοι, lotus-eaters) were a race of people from an island near North Africa dominated by "lotus" plants. The lotus fruits and flowers were the primary food of the island and were narcotic and addictive, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy. Scholarly attempts to link the lotos with a known narcotic have never convinced a broad spectrum of readers.

In Odyssey IX, Odysseus tells how adverse north winds blew him and his men off course as they were rounding Cape Malea, the southernmost tip of the Peloponnesus, headed westwards for Ithaca:

"I was driven thence by foul winds for a space of nine days upon the sea, but on the tenth day we reached the land of the Lotus-eaters, who live on a food that comes from a kind of flower. Here we landed to take in fresh water, and our crews got their mid-day meal on the shore near the ships. When they had eaten and drunk I sent two of my company to see what manner of men the people of the place might be, and they had a third man under them. They started at once, and went about among the Lotus-Eaters, who did them no hurt, but gave them to eat of the lotus, which was so delicious that those who ate of it left off caring about home, and did not even want to go back and say what had happened to them, but were for staying and munching lotus with the Lotus-eaters without thinking further of their return; nevertheless, though they wept bitterly I forced them back to the ships and made them fast under the benches. Then I told the rest to go on board at once, lest any of them should taste of the lotus and leave off wanting to get home, so they took their places and smote the grey sea with their oars."

Nymphaea Caerulea

(a member of the genus Ziziphus, that is traditionally taken to be the plant meant in the Odyssey)

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