Posted By: wwh ambrosia - 01/31/04 03:51 PM
O.Henry mentioned "nectar" which reminded me of "ambrosia".
We've all heard the word, but I wondered about its etymologyh. So far I haven't found it.
I wonder what brand of bumf the gods patronized.
I'm having trouble with Yahoo Search, keep getting an error
message I've not seen before "Page cannot be opened".

Webster's 1913 Dictionary

Definition: \Am*bro"sia\ (?; 277), n. [L. ambrosia, Gr. ?, properly
fem. of ?, fr. ? immortal, divine; 'a priv. + ? mortal
(because it was supposed to confer immortality on those who
partook of it). ? stands for ?, akin to Skr. mrita, L.
mortuus, dead, and to E. mortal.]
1. (Myth.)
(a) The fabled food of the gods (as nectar was their
drink), which conferred immortality upon those who
partook of it.
(b) An unguent of the gods.

His dewy locks distilled ambrosia. --Milton.

2. A perfumed unguent, salve, or draught; something very
pleasing to the taste or smell. --Spenser.

3. Formerly, a kind of fragrant plant; now (Bot.), a genus of
plants, including some coarse and worthless weeds, called
ragweed, hogweed, etc.

\Am*bro"sia\, n. (Zo["o]l.)
The food of certain small bark beetles, family {Scolytid[ae]}
believed to be fungi cultivated by the beetles in their

Posted By: Buffalo Shrdlu Re: ambrosia - 01/31/04 03:54 PM
I did find this from Wikipedia, via OneLook:

In ancient mythology, Ambrosia is sometimes the food, sometimes the drink, of the gods. The word has generally been derived from Greek a- ("not") and mbrotos ("mortal"); hence the food or drink of the immortals. A. W. Verrall, however, denies that there is any clear example in which the word ambrosios necessarily means immortal, and prefers to explain it as "fragrant," a sense which is always suitable. If so, the word may be derived from the Semitic ambar ("ambergris") to which Eastern nations attribute miraculous properties. W. H. Roscher thinks that both nectar and ambrosia were kinds of honey, in which case their power of conferring immortality would be due to the supposed healing and cleansing power of honey. See also Ichor.

Posted By: wwh Re: ambrosia - 01/31/04 04:00 PM
A bit of trivia about honey. Remember in the Anabasis, Herodotus tells of Greeks getting sick from eating honey
they found. Presumably because bees there were pasturing on
a type of laurel which has something toxic in the nectar.I'll go search for more information.

Here's a URL about it. Doesn't mention Anabasis, sob,sob!

Good old Perseus!
Perseus Project: Xenophon Anabasis 4.8.18-21

[18] Then the peltasts of the Arcadian division, who were commanded by
Aeschines the Acarnanian, getting the idea that the enemy were in
flight, set up a shout and began to run; and they were the first to
reach the summit of the mountain, while following close after them came
the Arcadian division of hoplites, under the command of Cleanor of

[19] As for the enemy, once the peltasts began to run they no longer stood
their ground, but betook themselves hither and thither in flight. After
accomplishing the ascent the Greeks took up quarters in numerous
villages, which contained provisions in abundance.

[20] Now for the most part there was nothing here which they really
found strange; but the swarms of bees in the neighbourhood were
numerous, and the soldiers who ate of the honey all went off their
* heads, and suffered from vomiting and diarrhoea, and not one of them
could stand up, but those who had eaten a little were like people
exceedingly drunk, while those who had eaten a great deal seemed like
crazy, or even, in some cases, dying men.

[21] So they lay there in great numbers as though the army had suffered
a defeat, and great despondency prevailed. On the next day, however, no
one had died, and at approximately the same hour as they had eaten the
* honey they began to come to their senses; and on the third or fourth day
they got up, as if from a drugging.

Posted By: of troy Re: ambrosia - 01/31/04 04:42 PM
the american mountail laural, a herbasous shrub, (very similar when not in flower to azalia and rhodedendrums) is also poisonous, and its flowers and nectar are also.-- so much so, that the nectar will actually kill bees who eat too much of it.

which is fortunate, since the poisonus alkaloid (what ever its molecular compound) remains poisonous when made into honey! i don't know enough botony to know what compound it is, and if one can build up a tollerence to it. --(learned this from a tag on a plant at a botanical gardens)--

Mountain laurals have clusters of flowers, that look like little stars when they open. they grow wild as far north as southern NY, (but are at home down WW's way)

Posted By: jheem Re: ambrosia - 01/31/04 05:54 PM
This is the first time I've been less than happy with a Wikipedia article. The names of Professors Verrall and Roscher didn't register, so I went snooping around the web. Turns our they were both classicists, in the 19th century. (The entry makes it seem like theirs is a newer theory than the 'immortal' one.) Verrall is best known today for his wife (also a classicist) who dabbled in psychical research (i.e., she was a medium), and she was known to Arthur Conan Doyle. Verrall, who was at Trinity College, was also Aleister Crowley's tutor and is best known for editing some Greek tragedies. Herr Doktor Roscher's main book was a late 19th century classical Greek and Roman dictionary. Most people today seem happy with the 'immortal' meaning, and there is the parallel form in Sanskrit to contend with.

Homer used ambrotos in the Iliad when talking about Ares. He either said Ares was a 'fragrant' or 'immortal' god [see Iliad xx.358] Also, in the Odyssey, xxiv.444. Where he writes about the will of the immortal gods.

So, sorry, but I don't buy it. Your mileage may vary.

Posted By: wwh Re: ambrosia - 01/31/04 06:47 PM
In etaoin's post is the word "ambergris". I looked it up,
and found a long article about a form of amber, from an Arab root, found on seashore. Though there was a picture of a whale at the top of the site, there was not a word about
whale ambergris, an extremely valuable large chunk of fatty stuff said to be vomited by whales, and used in the perfume industry. I'll see if I can find out information about that.

Posted By: wwh Re:whale ambergris - 01/31/04 06:52 PM
I found one site that said whale ambergris is worth fifty bucks a gram! And it comes in big heavy lumps.

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