Monday, May 24, 2021

Fennel during ancient times

The ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all ate its aromatic fruits and tender shoots. In the midsummer festival Adonia, of ancient times, fennel was among those seeds planted in the rites.

In early Sanskrit writings, fennel was known as madhurika and its cultivation in India is thought to date back at least to 2000 BC.

To the ancient Greeks, fennel represented success and was called ‘marathon’, after which the battle of Marathon (490 BC) was named when it was fought in a field of fennel. The juice of ‘marathon’ stalks and leaves was believed to be effective for improving eyesight. Possibly a connection was made with a story Pliny reports: after serpents shed their skins, they rub against the fennel plant to sharpen their eyesight.

Fennel seeds have been used medicinally since ancient times as one of the ancient Saxon people's nine sacred herbs, fennel was credited with the power to cure and was valued as a magic herb.

Fennel was also a symbol of success to the Romans and fennel leaves were used to crown victors in games. Roman warriors were said to have consumed fennel to make them strong and ready for battle.

The Romans delighted in the flavor of fennel. Cato the Elder gives a recipe for curing green olives and then seasoning them with oil, vinegar, salt, fennel, and mastic.

The English name fennel comes from Old English fenol, or finol, and fennel is one of the nine plants invoked in the pagan Anglo-Saxon Nine Herbs Charm recorded in a tenth century manuscript.

Fennel is also one of the most frequently quoted plants in the chilandar medical codex, the best preserved medieval Serbian manuscript on European medical science from the 12th to 15th centuries. Famous Greek physicians, Hippocrates and Dioscorides mentioned fennel as a diuretic and Emmenagogue and its juice was supposed to sharpen the eyesight.
Fennel during ancient times