Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Garden of the Hesperides

"This represents the classical myth of the three daughters of Hesperus, who tended the dragon of Ladon and guarded the golden apples of Hera. However, Burne-Jones has reduced the number of daughters to two, apparently in the interests of symmetry. (...) This scene, popular in Roman times, has obvious parallels with biblical imagery of the Garden of Eden. It has been suggested that this subject was the source of the idea that the apple was the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge; in the bible itself the fruit is never explicitly identified." Read more...Image source: from Victoria and Albert Museum: Sir Edward Burne-Jones, 'Garden of the Hesperides', panel, 1870-77. Museum no. Circ.525-1953 Copyright Victoria and Albert Museum vam.ac.uk

From Wikipedia: "The Garden of the Hesperides is Hera's orchard in the west, where either a single tree or a grove of immortality-giving golden apples grew. The apples were planted from the fruited branches that Gaia gave to her as a wedding gift when Hera accepted Zeus. The Hesperides were given the task of tending to the grove, but occasionally plucked from it themselves. Not trusting them, Hera also placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon named Ladon as an additional safeguard. However, in the mythology surrounding the Judgement of Paris, the Goddess of Discord Eris managed to enter the garden, pluck a golden apple, inscribe it "To the most beautiful" (Ancient Greek: Kallistei) and roll it into the wedding party (which she had not been invited to), in effect causing the Trojan Wars.

"In later years it was thought that the "golden apples" might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe and the Mediterranean before the Middle Ages. Under this assumption, the Greek botanical name chosen for all citrus species was Hesperidoeidē (Ἑσπεριδοειδῆ, "hesperidoids")." Hesperides