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Lotophages

The following is excerpted from: Sicily between History, Myths and Legends - Vol. 1: From Prehistory to the Phoenicians  Author: Ignazio Caloggero - ISBN: 9788894321951)

Lotophages

According to Herodotus (Lib. IV.177), the Lotophages lived on the African coasts, eating exclusively the fruit of the lotus;

 "This lotus fruit is as big as a mastic berry and for sweetness it is very similar to the fruit of the palm: the lotophages also deduct a wine".

In reality, with the name of Lotus the ancients indicated very different plants; the most famous was the Lotophagus tree whose fruit, according to Homer, was so good that foreigners forget their homeland. This tree called "Ziziphus lotus"Or more simply" wild jujube "("Nzinzuli sarvaggi“) Is a shrub from the Mediterranean area that also grows in Sicily.

In the IX book of the Odyssey (vv. 82-102), it is narrated how Ulysses landed with this people after nine days of storm that took him beyond the island of Kythera. The Lotophages welcomed the companions of Ulysses well and offered them the sweet fruit of the lotus, their only food which, however, had the characteristic of making people lose their memory, so Ulysses had to embark them by force and immediately take off to avoid that all the crew , eating lotus, forgot his homeland and wanted to stay in that land (in the Odyssey it is not said whether it was on an island or on the mainland).

Ulysses among the Lotophages in an XNUMXth century drawing.

In Sicily, writers of the past have hypothesized that the seat of the Lotophages was in the southern area of ​​the island and precisely from Camarina to Agrigento. [1]

[1] Discourses on the ancient and modern Ragusa by Garofalo Filippo. p.3

Card insertion: Ignazio Caloggero

Photo: web, 

Information contributions: Ignazio Caloggero

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