10 Ancient Greek Aphrodisiacs: The Food of Love

Oysters on ice. by Darren Muir. An exclusive image for Stocksy.com.
Oysters on ice.by Darren Muir.
 An exclusive image for Stocksy.com.

The word, aphrodisiac has its roots in Ancient Greece, and comes from the name of the Greek Goddess of love and beauty, Aphrodite, who, according to Greek mythology, was born from the sea, and swept to shore in a scallop or oyster shell.

Sandro Boticelli's The Birth of Venus, 1486 , Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Sandro Boticelli's The Birth of Venus, 1486
 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

You can see the connection here with Aphrodite between, maybe the most famous aphrodisiac, seafood, especially shellfish.

Oysters Maybe the most famous of aphrodisiacs
Maybe the most famous of aphrodisiacs

An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases libido, called by the ancient Greeks, philitron, a love charm, or, love potion.

In ancient times, the Aphrodisia festival was celebrated in the island of Cyprus every spring, and lasted three days.

 Thousands of people, not only from Cyprus, but also from other regions of the Mediterranean, gathered to celebrate the festival.

Those attending, surrendered to the” Joy and the pleasures” of life!

Illustration by George Barbier (1882-1932),  Aphrodite, woodcut.
Illustration by George Barbier (1882-1932),

What is it that gives Greek men such a virile appearance?

Is it the red hot climate?

Is that bushy, black moustache?

Could it be something in their healthy Mediterranean diet?

Read on, and discover 10 aphrodisiacs of ancient Greece.

Those wise old Ancient Greeks certainly knew a thing or two when it came to matters of love, they knew the way to a man’s heart, and other parts, was through his stomach.

1. Saffron

Aristotle swore by it, to help him go that extra mile!

 Aristotle, the great Greek philosopher, swore by saffron, to do the job, and added it to all his food, just to help him go that extra mile.

Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, and the most potent of aphrodisiacs, is the stamen of the crocus flower.

It has now been scientifically proven, to be a powerful aphrodisiac, and may even outperform synthetic substances.

2. Artichokes

Artichoes According to Greek mythology, created by Zeus
According to Greek mythology, created by Zeus

It is said, in Greek mythology, artichokes were created by Zeus, when he was rejected by a beautiful woman, who he consequently turned into an artichoke, prickly and hard on the outside, soft inside.

Artichokes were thought to ensure the birth of a son; maybe that Greek housewife you spotted at the market, with bags full of artichokes, has four daughters and longs for a son?

3. lentils

Lentils Kept Hippocrates "Manly"
Kept Hippocrates "Manly"

 Hippocrates, father of medicine, urged his fellow men to eat heaps of lentils, to keep them “Manly” into their old age

4. Beans

Beans Plutarch virtually lived on them.
Plutarch virtually lived on them.

Plutarch, put his trust in beans and virtually lived on “Fasolada” a soup made from dry, white beans, which, incidentally, is today’s Greek national dish!

5. Mushrooms and Truffles

Mushrooms  Photo by Nilayaren
 Photo by Nilayaren

The rich, musky aroma of truffles, mimic that of pheromones, a chemical in the body which attracts the opposite sex.

6. Onions

Priests were forbidden to eat them

Onions have been mentioned many times in ancient history, as an aphrodisiac, not only by the Greeks, but, by The ancient Egyptians, Arabs, Persians and Romans.

Priests were forbidden to consume onions, in order for them to remain celibate.

An old French tradition, advises newly married couples, to partake of onion soup, the day after their wedding, to renew their passion

7. Garlic

Homer, the Greek poet, consumed plenty of it.

Homer, the famous Greek poet, daily consumed plenty of garlic, most likely in the form of “Skordalia” a paste of garlic and bread, or “Tzatziki”, yoghurt with lashings of garlic.

Both still dishes favoured today in Greece, mostly by men I might add, a coincidence?

Garlic, since ancient times, has been known for its magical, medicinal powers.

8. Bay or Laurel leaves

Bay leaf, or laurel Symbol of the Greek God Apollo
Bay leaf, or laurel
Symbol of the Greek God Apollo

The bay, or laurel leaf, a symbol of the Greek God Apollo, dates back thousands of years.

When taken as an infusion, it is mildly narcotic, it was taken by Greek priestesses, to achieve a trance - like state, necessary to predict the future

  When blended with oil, and used for massage, it aids the circulation, and promotes a strong blood flow.

9. Mint

Mint Puts other things on a man's mind
Puts other things on a man's mind

Mint tea, consumed in great quantities throughout the Mediterranean and Arab world, really puts people in the mood, so to speak.

  Aristotle advised Alexander the Great, not to allow his warriors to drink it, before going in to battle, as it would put other things on their mind and distract them.

10. Satyrion (Similar to wild orchid)

Orchis italica A possible candidate for satyrion of antiquityOrchis italica
Orchis italica
A possible candidate for satyrion of antiquity.

Judging from Greek and Roman accounts, satyrion must have been very close to the perfect aphrodisiac

. According to Theophrastus, it produced on one occasion seventy consecutive acts of sex!

Another Roman author suggests that it is sufficient to use it on the soles of the feet to produce erotic arousal.

 Yet another source suggests that it was sufficient to hold a part of the plant in the hand to produce the desired erotic effects.

Unfortunately, the precise identity of satyrion is not known today. It was a plant with reddish leaves and a double root, possibly similar to the orchids producing salep.

The most common way of using it was to pulverize the dried root and add it to wine.

Satyrion was such a fast-acting stimulant, so effective, that its properties remained secret.

These are the more well-known Ancient Greek aphrodisiacs, there are many more.

  While having the time of your life in the country of the Gods, take it easy with the “Tzatziki” 

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