Monday, 4 April 2016

Tricks, Revenge and Giant Fennel

Reality is seriously stunting my blog writing prowess this year so I'm delving into mythology for this week's post with an event from Hesiod's 8th Century BCE poem, 'Theogeny'. 

A meeting has been called at Mekone to decide the division of sacrifice between mankind and the gods. Prometheus kills an ox and picks out all the meat and covers it with the ox's stomach. He makes another pile of all the bones but covers them with a layer of juicy fat.  He then invites Zeus to choose which pile he would prefer as his sacrifice. Zeus picks the fat covered bones meaning that mortals can keep all the good meat and sacrifice the waste products to the gods.  Zeus is furious at being tricked so in retribution confiscates fire from the human race, leaving them cold and hungry for cooked meat. Prometheus steals back the fire from Mount Olympos and is chained to a rock as punishment and just to drive home the point that one doesn't mess with Zeus, a bird of prey daily devours Promethueus' constantly regenerating liver. 

According to the myth, Prometheus carried the stolen fire in the stem of a Giant Fennel.  Travel around Turkey in Spring and you will see this mighty plant emerging from the ground with wonderfully acid green flowers. By summer it will be up to 2.5 metres tall and in the winter its dry form dots the landscape with sculptural reminders of summer.  A member of the Umbelliferae or Cow Parsley family but not the edible fennel group, it is also known as Ferula, Narthex and Çakşır  and its tubular stems have long been used as torches and for transporting smouldering kindling. 

This is not the Giant Fennel's only appearance on the godly stage. Bacchus recommended his followers carried Ferula stalks rather than sticks so that if they brawled and fought when under the influence of his wine, they would not hurt each other. 

Terry and Brenda channelling Prometheus.

Giant Fennel in April

Giant Fennel in winter, upright and felled. 


  1. . . seems to me that the ancient gods were far more lenient than the 'one-of-a-kind' misery-guts that's been inflicted upon those of the yahudi-hiristian-muselman compulsion and its countless derivatives. I mean, what's having one's liver devoured when one gets it back daily compared with eternal damnation!

    1. On a pain scale of 1 to 10 i think they are both 11

  2. I wish I had a constantly regenerating liver, minus the bird of prey, of course!

  3. B to B, Bacchus had a good idea. Kind of like a pillow fight. Thanks for the info. I don't think I'm familiar with this plant but I'll keep an eye out now.

  4. Brilliant, this one is for my son Mark!:) Ozlem x