Friday, July 27, 2012

Cornucopia

Cornucopia
Cornucopia, also known as The Horn of Plenty, is used as a symbol of prosperity and abundance. Many countries use it as part of their coat of arms  (Colombia, Panama, Venezuela), there are festivals named after it but probably the most known celebration that uses Cornucopia as it's symbol is Thanksgiving.

But how did it end up there and where did it come from in the first place? The first question is a bit more complicated to have a short answer but the second one..I'll give you three chances to guess.. 1, 2 and 3. Yes..Greeks, Greeks and Greeks.

To my great surprise though people here never heard of Cornucopia ...and to think that they are generally very proud of their cultural heritage.

Anyway, there I was asking if anyone have heard of Cornucopia and people started making small eyes at me trying to figure out what language I'm talking or if I'm making fun of them. My first thought when I realized nobody knew what I was talking about was: "HA! Here is something you missed taking credit for!" since the "all words have a Greek root" attitude is very widely spread in Greece. But then my second thought was: "Shit! Now I'm actually giving them more argument to persist in that attitude."

But what's fair is fair. Cornucopia does come from a Greek myth, Zeus' birth to be more precise. Zeus' father, Cronus, found out that one if his offspring was destined to overthrown him so, the solution he found was to eat his kids at birth. Rhea, Zeus' mother, tricked Cronus and gave him to swallow a rock in stead and hid her child in a cave of Mount Ida. Here the young Zeus was raised by Amalthea, the goat goddess. One day, the story says that Zeus, playing with Amalthea, broke one of her horns by mistake. From that point on the horn provided endless nourishment for the young god.

Demeter holding a Cornucopia
As a symbol, Cornucopia appears along side lots of Greek deities like Fortuna, the goddess of luck, Demeter the goddess of crops, or Gaia the goddess of the Earth. When the Romans come adopting most of the Greek pantheon, some of their deities also start being depicted with the Cornucopia like Abundancia, the personification of abundance. 

This is how Cornucopia as a symbol spread all over the Roman world. Later on, when Christianity started rising, Cornucopia continued to be used as a symbol of abundance and prosperity despite its particularly pagan roots. Useless to say that in time, the Christian world became even bigger then the Roman world and so Cornucopia traveled oceans. 



1 comment:

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