Mythical legends

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Everything has its history by which a clever man can benefit and learn much. A honeybee, small and unnoticeable, but extremely useful has also its own history, which dates back into ancient times. As long as the world exists and the man lives on it, so long bees exist, which the man loves and takes care of. The bees' history is as old as the history of the humanity itself. Bees are mentioned in myths, legends and etiologic tales of all literate peoples and there their habitat is also indicated. But where the original bee's habitat no one knows. It is impossible to follow the ways of her gradual spread all over the world, as it retains species characteristics and remains hardworking and neat in all the climatic conditions as it was thousands years ago. Following its innate instinct, it collects nectar everywhere and makes honey and wax of it. Greek and roman engravings on the walls show bees as divine creatures, which originated directly from gods. They are children of the sun god and hornet , are believed to originate from nymphs and half goddesses, phrixonids, who lived on Kea island, situated opposite to Attic cost. Nickandr, a Greek poet and doctor, who lived 2 hundred years BC, considers Crete island rich in nymphs to be the place of birth of bees and says that bees appeared during golden age, in the reign of Saturn. Ovid notes Bahus, the god of wine, among gods who protect beekeeping. He first met bees during his travel in Frakia. When Bahus and his companions were processing ore at the bank of the Strimon river, they were charmed by a magnificent melody of the bees who had flown there and Bahus domesticated them and bees lived in trees hollows:

Look! There new winged creatures
Attracted by a jingle have bunched up;
Where jingle is, there bees fly
Bahus have collected them and
Put them in tree hollows;
And honey that he found there
Was his reward.

So according to the legend the first beekeeper was nobody else but Bahus, a god of wine.

According to another legend, the hero Aristaeus, son of Apollo and the nymph Cyrene, carried off by Apollo to Libya, introduced agriculture in Thessaly, which was Cyrene's homeland.

Aristaeus was essentially a benevolent deity; he also introduced the cultivation of bees and the vine and olive and was the protector of herdsmen and hunters.

Jupiter, son of Saturn who is believed to ate up his children, was brought up by his mother Rea, on Ida mountain, Crete island. In order to prevent the father Saturn from hearing his son's weeping, Rea gave priests an order to bang their arms. Bees were attracted by the noise and later they began to guard the entrance into grotto, where young Jupiter was hidden and to feed him with their honey.

For their service, Jupiter after becoming the major deity, the ruler of the gods in the Greco-Roman pantheon 122440 endowed them with a golden coloring and the art to collect honey, which was falling in abundance from the sky under the auspices of Jupiter, into honey combs for winter.

Almost everywhere cultured peoples considered bees to be the symbol of chastity, purity, order, thrift and care. They were also believed to be an image of a human soul, as due to their natural instinct can find the way home from distant places, as well as souls, that descend from the skies, wander for some time in the world and then return to the primary sources of their genesis.

Prevailing order in a hive fascinated Spartans, and especially the famous lawgiver who founded most of the institutions of ancient Sparta, Lycurgus, whose reforms were inspired by the of bees. Plato, the greatest philosopher of his times, also expressed his thoughts about bees in his works. For the order, assiduousness and thrift that exist in a hive can guarantee a prosperous life of a state. Such a state will differ not only in might, wealth and authority from other states, but also in purity of morale, unanimity and simplicity in everything that will win deeper instincts and bad inclinations of some citizens.

We have already mentioned that the ancient belived that bees are attracted by the sound of metal clang and thus attributed to bees love for music. Varro, Marcus Terentius, Rome's greatest scholar and a satirist of stature calls them . Bees are also connected with ancient poetry. Thus they foretold fame to the two greatest poets of ancient times PINDAR and MARCUS ANNAEUS LUCANUS and when they were babies they sat on their lips.

Homer compares the speech of the famous Greek advisor Nestor with honey. In the Iliad he is about 70 years old and sage and pious; his role is largely to incite the warriors to battle and to tell stories of his early exploits, which contrast with his listeners' experiences, shown to be soft and easy. Many Greek proper names derived from words cognate to and . The Greek who saw in honey the symbol of love, purity and tenderness used this word in order to emphasize outstanding qualities and virtues.

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English translation © Irina Yelsukova