For the contemporary Greeks, the lotus fruit is the Japanese persimmon, which looks a lot like Travis County Wildlife Removal. I have seen it growing in gardens in the province of Lakonia in the Peloponnese, Greece. Personally, I’m not fond of this specific lotus fruit, it is dry and leaves your mouth feeling as though it actually needs water. It tastes a little like vanilla.
Having tasted this fruit it’s tough to believe that it was this that so enthralled Odysseus and his team of adventurers. Needless to say, it’s reasonable to suppose that the ancient Greek hero stayed close to his homeland, but it’s unlikely, given the amount of years it took him to get home after the Trojan war.
It’s much more probable that he travelled to Asia and encountered the sacred lotus. The sacred lotus, therefore Homer wrote in Book 9 of the Odyssey, caused Odysseus and his followers to forget the purpose of their journey, which is why some commentators have suggested that the lotus eaters partook of the opium poppy.
However, for those who take a look at the seed pods you will see they resemble those of the opium poppy. Each pod holds about 24 seeds. In Cambodia, these are appreciated as a very tasty snack!
The lotus plant is also valued for its medicinal properties, as it comprises nuciferine and aporphine, which are morphine-like substances. This indicates that the sleep of Lethe might well be triggered if the plant is consumed. No wonder Odysseus too so long for home.
Herodotus, the Father of History, thought the lotus eaters were people of the Libyan coastal area. However, Herodotus is not always a trustworthy source. In the ancient world eating the fruit of the lotus was believed to cause forgetfulness.
Perhaps the lotus eaters never really existed. However, they have certainly captured the imaginations of generations. Fans of Rick Riordan novels will doubtless recall the theme of the Lotus Eaters in his’Camp Half-Blood Chronicles.’
If you are interested enough to try the Greek lotus, head to the Peloponnese in autumn. I’ve seen the fruit on trees in the winter (no one seems to harvest it). However, you’ll have to ask permission to try the lotus fruit. As it is cultivated in the gardens of homes.