Golden apple

Golden apple

The golden apple is an element that appears in some countries' legends or fairy tales. Usually, a hero (like Hercules or Făt-Frumos in the legends of Eastern countries) has to retrieve the golden apples hidden or stolen by an antagonist like a dragon or other monster.

Greek mythology


Three golden apples were featured in Greek mythology, in which a hunter named Atalanta raced against a suitor named Hippomenes who used the golden apples to distract her so that he could win the race:

:"After Atalanta participated in the hunt and received the pelt, her father claimed her as his offspring and wanted her to get married. Although a very beautiful maiden, Atalanta did not particularly want to marry after an oracle told her that she will gain bad luck if she marries. In order to get her a husband, her father made a deal with Atalanta that she would marry anybody who could beat her in a foot race. Atalanta happily agreed, as she could run extremely fast. ":"She outran many suitors. The one that finally became her husband accomplished this through brains, not speed. Hippomenes (also known as Melanion) knew that he could not win a fair race with Atalanta, so he prayed to Aphrodite for help. The goddess gave him three golden apples (sometimes the fruit was quince instead) and told him to drop them one at a time to distract Atalanta. Sure enough, she quit running long enough to retrieve each golden apple. It took all three apples and all of his speed, but Hippomenes finally succeeded, winning the race and Atalanta's hand. Unfortunately, Hippomenes forgot to thank the Goddess and she turned them into lions"

Atalanta was a virgin huntress who promised to marry the man who could win a foot race against her but lost to Hippomenes when she stopped to receive three golden apples of Aphrodite that he dropped in her path she lost the race to Hippomenes.

The Garden of the Hesperides

The Garden of the Hesperides was Hera's orchard in the east, where either a single tree or a grove of trees bearing immortality-giving golden apples grew. Hera placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed, dragon, named Ladon, as an additional safeguard. The eleventh Labor of Hercules was to steal the golden apples from the garden.

The Judgement of Paris

:"Main articles: Judgement of Paris, Apple of Discord"

Zeus held a banquet in celebration of the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. Left off the guest list was Eris (goddess of discord), and upon turning up uninvited, she threw or rolled a golden apple into the ceremony, with an inscription that read: καλλίστῃ or, "for the fairest one." Three goddesses claimed the apple: Hera, Athena and Aphrodite. Zeus remembered Paris of Troy as being the most beautiful of mortal men and was aware of the bull-judging contest which was soon to come, in which Paris would be judge. So Zeus sent Ares, who disguised himself as a bull, which was one of his symbols. Ares accepted this duty given by Zeus humorously. Being a god, he appeared perfect in all respects and therefore was awarded the Golden Laurels. Zeus deemed Paris as the judge as he knew that Paris would be a fair and equal judge. He gave the apple to Hermes and told him to deliver it to Paris and tell him that the goddessess would accept his decision without argument, and so the goddesess appeared. Each of the goddesses offered Paris a gift as a bribe in return for the apple. First approached Hera who offered to make him a famous, powerful, king; next came Athena, who offered to make him wise, above even some of the gods; and last of all came Aphrodite, who said she would give him the most beautiful woman in the world as his wife, Helen at that time, of Sparta (later to be titled Helen of Troy). Paris chose Aphrodite, which would ultimately lead to the start of the Trojan war. Paris soon went to celebrate the marriage of Helen and Menelaus with his brother. They spent the night there, and Menelaus was called to Agamemnon, and thus Helen and Paris were left alone. In this time they made love, and Helen left Menelaus and sailed to Troy with Paris, thus initiating the Trojan War.

Norse mythology

In Norse mythology, golden apples grant immortal life to the gods. They are cultivated by the Goddess Iðunn.

One day, Loki, Odin and Thor go on a camping trip. An eagle (a giant in disguise) takes Loki and makes him promise to hand over Idun so that he might wed her and also have eternal youth. Loki agrees and takes Idun to him. The gods don't miss the apples at first but then start to demand where Idun and her apples went. Loki confesses and agrees to get her back under pain of death. He succeeds after a risky flight, and the gods rejoice that they have the apples back.

The golden apples play no role in the lives of Norse mythology. The Norse gods have their immortality for the duration of the life of their worshippers, so as long as there is worship happening to them, they contain immortality.

Golden apples are associated with a leitmotif. It is first sung by Fafner, when he explains to his brother Fasolt why they must take Freia away from the gods.

Fairy tales

Many European fairy tales begin when golden apples are stolen from a king, usually by a bird. These include:

In the words of Fairy Tales the Three Golden Apples was with Hippomenes and Had gave it to Atalanta to trick her so he can win the race.
*Tsarevitch Ivan, the Fire Bird and the Gray Wolf, Russian
*The Golden Bird, German
*The Golden Mermaid, German
*The Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples, Bulgarian
*Prâslea the Brave and the Golden Apples, Romanian, where the thief is not a bird but a zmeu

Modern literature

The William Butler Yeats poem "The Song of the Wandering Aengus", has the lines:

:"I will find out where she has gone":"And kiss her lips and take her hands;":"And walk among the dappled grass,":"And pluck till time and times are done":"The silver apples of the moon,":"The golden apples of the sun."


The contemporary post-modernist religion Discordia draws upon the Golden Apple of the goddess Eris, also known as the "Apple of Discord" which was used by this goddess to set off the conflict among the goddesses of Olympus that lead to the Trojan War as a result of Eris not being invited to a party (the so-called "Original Snub." Emblazoned upon the apple is the word "Kallisti" meaning "To the Prettiest One." The golden apple can be seen as a metaphor for a practical joke meant to cause Cognitive dissonance in the target.

Golden apples in other languages

In many languages, oranges are "golden apple." For example, the Greek "χρυσομηλιά," and Latin "pomum aurantium" both literally describe oranges as "golden apples." Other languages like German, Finnish, Hebrew, and Russian have more complex etymologies for the word orange that can be traced back to the same idea. [ [ "Orange (Citrus sinensis [L.] Osbeck) Etymology"] , Gernot Katzer, [ Gernot Katzer Spice Pages] , University of Graz, February 3, 1999]


Frequently, the term "golden apple" is used to refer to the quince, a fruit originating in the Middle East. [ [ "Quince, the "Golden Apple"] , Sharon Arnot, [ Sauce Magazine] , April 26, 2004.] The tomato, unknown to the ancient world of the Greeks, is known as the "pomodoro" in Italian, meaning "golden apple" (from "pomo d'oro").


ee also

*The Golden Apples of the Sun
*Apples and oranges
*German Apple Front
*Westchester County


* [ Read the charming mythical tale of The Three Golden Apples]

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