Oak in Greek Mythology

The oak was the dominant tree of the ancient Greek landscape. In fact the ancient Greek word for oak, 'drys', was also the word for tree. The two main commonly found in the region are the evergreen holm oak and the deciduous Valonian. Both range in size from thick low shrub (forming the basis of the modern-day Meditteranean scrub forests) to large trees. They were valued for their wood and for the autumn-ripening acorns. Tanin was also extracted from the acorn cups of the Valonian oak. This substance was a vital component employed in the tanning of leather hides. In Greek lore, the primitive, pre-agrarian tribes of Arkadia were said to have lived on a stable diet of acorns

Oak, Holm, Valonia…

Also: Evergreen oak, prickly-cupped oak and ilex (alternative names for the holm)

Greek : Drys { ἡ δρῦς }

Species: Quercus Ilex, Quercus Ithaburensis Macrolepis and Quercus Aegilops

Description: The oak was the dominant tree of the ancient Greek landscape. In fact the ancient Greek word for oak, ‘drys’, was also the word for tree. The two main commonly found in the region are the evergreen holm oak and the deciduous Valonian. Both range in size from thick low shrub (forming the basis of the modern-day Meditteranean scrub forests) to large trees. They were valued for their wood and for the autumn-ripening acorns. Tanin was also extracted from the acorn cups of the Valonian oak. This substance was a vital component employed in the tanning of leather hides. In Greek lore, the primitive, pre-agrarian tribes of Arkadia were said to have lived on a stable diet of acorns. In classical times it was a food only of last resort consumed in times of famine. Usually acorns were reserved for animal feed.

Sacred to: Zeus (gave his oracles from the sacred oaks of Dodona)

Myth 1: Nymphai Dryades. Dryads or Hamadryads were Nymphs whose life force was irrevocably bound up with that of a tree, usually a mighty oak. At their birth, a symbiotic plant sprang up fully grown from the earth and when they died it withered away. The premature felling of the tree also brought about the death of the Nymph. (Source: Various)
Myth 2: Metamorphosis Byblis. Byblis was a Miletian princess who fell in love with her own brother. When the boy rejected her advances, she fled in shame, and cast herself off a mountainside. The Nymphs pitied her fate and transformed Byblis into a holm oak Dryad. Her tears became a spring which rose from the tree’s roots. (Sources: Antoninus Liberalis, Ovid)
Myth 3: Metamorphosis Philemon. Philemon and Baukis were a pious couple who hospitably received the gods Zeus and Hermes when they were travelling amongst mankind in disguise. The gods destroyed those who had turned them away and rewarded the couple by making them priests of the temple and transforming them into a pair of entwined trees at death: Baukis a linden, and Philemon an oak. (Source: Ovid)
Myth 4: The Golden Fleece. The golden fleece was nailed to the branches of an oak tree in the sacred grove of Ares at Kolkhis. The god sent a giant serpent (drakon) to guard it. (Source: Apollodorus, Apollonius Rhodius, Valerius Flaccus)
Myth 5: Sacrilege of Erysikthon. See Poplar, black.
Myth 6: Hamadryas Balanos. The Hamadryad nymph of the acorn. (Source: Athenaeus)

Source: theoi.com

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