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In Greek mythology, Minthe (also Menthe, Mentha, Mintho, in Greek Μένθη) was a nymph associated with the river Cocytus. She was dazzled by Hades' golden chariot and was about to be seduced by him had not Queen Persephone metamorphosed Minthe into the pungently sweet-smelling mint, which some call hedyosmus. The –nth– element in menthe is characteristic of a class of words borrowed from a pre-Greek language: compare acanthus, labyrinth, Corinth, etc.

In Ancient Greece, mint was used in funerary rites, together with rosemary and myrtle, and not simply to offset the smell of decay; mint was an element in the fermented barley drink called the kykeon that was an essential preparatory entheogen for participants in the Eleusinian mysteries, which offered hope in the afterlife for initiates. (Kerenyi 1967).

References

  • Graves, Robert, (1955). The Greek Myths I (Revised Edition 1960). London: Penguin, pp 121,124.
  • Kerenyi, Karl, 1967. Eleusis: Archetypal Image of Mother and Daughter, pp. 40, 179f (Princeton:Bollingen)

Sources

  • Strabo:viii.3.14 [1]
  • Ovid: Metamorphoses X: 728–731 [2]