By Erika Janik
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Extra info for Apple: A Global History
In Europe and pre-Prohibition America, apples were more often drunk than eaten. Ralph Waldo Emerson went so far as to call apples the ‘social fruit of New England’ for its alcoholic virtues. The high esteem in which the apple was held in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century American colonies and on the American frontier was due in large part to cider, one of the few safe beverages available to drink. Most households and taverns served cider rather than water, milk, wine, beer or most other hard liquors.
Paris is handing the apple to Venus (the Roman name for Aphrodite), the precipitating act of the Trojan War. In Armenian folk traditions, apples also played a part in courtship, often signalling that some desire, usually love, had been attained. Many tales end with the phrase ‘Three apples fell from heaven’, the equivalent of the familiar ‘And they all lived happily ever after’. While there are a few instances of the phrase in other countries, it appears to be a distinct Armenian tradition, with the only variation being the source of the apples: sometimes God rather than heaven drops the fruit.
Gilded bronze statue of Hercules from the 2nd century BCE, possibly the cult statue from the Temple of Hercules Victor that stood by the ancient cattle market in the Forum Boarium. He holds his club in his right hand and the three apples of the Hesperides in his left. While not quite guaranteeing immortality, apples were also said to at least make you live longer, a power that greatly interested the Macedonian king Alexander the Great. On the same expedition in which he sought the Water of Life in central Asia, Alexander allegedly found apples capable of prolonging the lives of the priests who ate them by as much as 400 years.