THE TREE AND THE OLIVE
was born thousand years ago, the tree with the most particularly
characteristicsof the Mediterranean region and of very ancient
origin. It grew somewhere near to Asia, where it was extremely
abundant. It have spread from Syria to Greece "via Anatolia"
and after to all Mediterranean Basin. Its cultivation developed
considerably and spreading from the Island of Crete towards
Egypt, between the 7th and 3rd century B.C. where ancient
philosophers, physicians and historians undertook its botanical
classifications and referred to the curative properties of
olive oil, and its history, while Aristotle who lived in Athens
elevated olive cultivation to a science.Ancient Greeks consider
Pallas Athena, the Goddess of peace and wisdom, born miraculously
from the forehead of her father, Zeus after he swallowed the
pregnant Metis, to be the fountainhead of the olive tree.
Cecrops founded a small colony in Attica in the 17th century
B.C., which attracted the inhabitants of the area who had
been nomads until then.Athena and Poseidon disputed the honor
of giving the town its name, and so the assembly of gods agreed
to grant that honor to whichever of the two contestants provided
the most useful invention.
Poseidon brought a magnificent horse, "beautiful, swift
capable of pulling heavy chariots and winning in combat".
Athena made sprout an olive oil tree "capable of giving
a flame for lighting up the night; of soothing wounds; of
being a precious food, both rich in flavor and a source of
energy". The people considered the olive tree to be of
greater use to man, thus granting Athena sovereigntyover the
region and over the city which bears her name.The olive tree
that sprouted in the Acropolis was surrounded to its defense.
When enemies approached, all the citizens gathered inside
the walls, closeUntil then only virgins and chaste men, were
entrusted with tending olive groves.
to the olive tree,
until the danger had passed.
Some 700 years B.C. Thales ofMiletus predicted that oil production
was going to be extraordinary, thanks to certain observations
that he made from the stars. He leased the region's mills
and though his monopoly earned a fabulous profit.
He was one of the first people to trade in oil.