Hesiod’s Theogony describes the Nymphs of the Sunset as Daughters of the Night, but Greek mythology also had them as daughters of Zeus and Themis, Tethys and Oceanus, Forco and Ceto. The most confirmed version sees them daughters of Atlas and Hesperide.
Their number is not certain, it seems however they were three, Arethusa, Egle and Espere, and that they lived at the world’s limits, at the feet of the sky held up by their father Atlas, in a garden where the tree with “the golden pommes” grew, watched over by the dragon Ladone, son of Typhon and Echidna.
The goddess Earth ( Gaea ) produced some blooming small trees with golden Pommes, symbol of fertility and love, to celebrate the wedding between Hera and Zeus. A very precious gift because of its protective qualities. Jupiter, in fact, afraid of a possible theft, decided to keep them in a wonderful garden, guarded by the Hesperides.
Heracles, Hercules for the Romans, for the will of Euristeo by whom he would have obtained immortality, in his XI labour had the task of stealing the precious pommes. The myth, in Apollodoro’s version, tells that Heracles, aware of Hesperides’ father’s wish to pick up the pommes, cheated him, offering himself in his place as supporter of the sky: Atlas stole the pommes, but after having finished the theft, Heracles, pretending to take a cushion to put on his shoulders, called him again to support the heavenly bundle. Atlas incautiously consented, put the pommes on the ground and regained the substantial vault, while the strong hero caught the pommes and gave them to Euristeo.
Another version of the myth has, as a warden of the gilded fruits, for Hera’s will, a snake with one hundred heads, son of Forco and Ceta: The myth tells that, to pick up the fruits, Heracles killed the snake, causing Hera’s desperation. This one, to honour the creature she greatly loved, decided to transform her in a constellation: the constellation of the Snake.
The pommes were returned by Euristeo to Jupiter’s wife, even if the Hesperides, mournful at the lost of the fruits which they guarded, each transformed herself in a tree, commonly known as a symbol of sadness: black poplar, willow-tree and elm.
- Citrus: the lemon tree
- Pomum or malum: the fruit
- Malum discordiae: the fruit of conflict
By “hesperides” we mean the essential oils obtained through extraction from citrus fruits as lemon, bergamot, orange, tangerine, etc.., together with orange ( orange blossom, petigrain, neroli). These fresh, tonic and light fragrances are commonly used for “Eau de Cologne” and “Eau fraiches” and, sometimes, can also have some flowery or powdered harmonies.