Peppermint Histories – the Greek and the Roman

peppermint

The peppermint plant has been grown around the world – and used by humans – for thousands of years.  But did you know that it actually has two mythological origin stories – the Roman and Greek versions?  Here is a summary of each of them:

Roman

In the Roman origin story, Minthe was a dazzling, beautiful nymph who was in love with Pluto, god of the Underworld.  His wife, Prosperina, however, was angered by this love and determined to put a stop to it.  She decided to transform Minthe into a  very small ground plant would inevitably be trampled on, day in and day out.

Even Pluto, with all his power, didn’t have the power to undo Prosperina’s spell.  So, he devised another way to make sure that Minthe would still be appreciated.  He gave her a wonderful smell and transformed her into (in the words of Strabo), “the garden mint, which some call heydosmon, which means sweet smelling”. The more Minthe was crushed or stepped on, the more sweetly she smelled.

Greek

In the Greek origin story, there are two travelers passing by a village.  Nobody wants to give them a second glance or help them in their travels because they are broke and dirty.

However, one elderly couple, named Baucis and Philemon, take pity on the travelers.  They invite the travelers to dine with them.  First, however, the couple wipe their table clean and rubbed it with peppermint leaves because of their fresh aroma.

The two travelers turn out to be Hermes and Zeus in disguise.  They were so grateful for the hospitality that they decided to forever ever make mint a symbol of hospitality and friendship.

And now you know the two origin stories for peppermint.  :->