The Oracular Bee

Gold plaques embossed with winged bee goddesses. Camiros, Rhodes. 7th century B.C.

Three bee maidens with the power of divination and thus speaking truth are described in Homer’s Hymn to Hermes, and the food of the gods is “identified as honey”. The bee maidens were originally associated with Apollo, and are probably not correctly identified with the Thriae, a trinity of pre-Hellenic Aegean bee goddesses.

Honey, according to a Greek myth, was discovered by a nymph called Melissa (“Bee”), and honey was offered to the Greek gods from Mycenean times. Bees were associated, too, with the Delphic oracle and the prophetess was sometimes called a bee.

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