Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Word from Mythology: CORNUCOPIA

The word "cornucopia" is from Latin: cornu-copiae, horn (cornu) of plenty (copiae). This word is associated with a specific mythological character: Amalthea, the goat who nursed the infant Zeus.

The story goes that the Titan god Cronus feared that he would be overthrown by his son (as he, in turn, had overthrown his father Uranus). One by one, as his wife the goddess Rhea gave birth, he swallowed the children. When Zeus was born, Rhea hid him away on the island of Crete, and gave Cronus a rock wrapped up in swaddling clothes, and Cronus swallowed that rock instead. Amalthea, a goat goddess, was Zeus's foster mother, suckling him when he was a baby. You can read more about Amalthea at Wikipedia. Here is Bernini's sculpture of Amalthea:

This Greek vase shows the earth god Plouton holding the keras amaltheias, the "horn of Amalthea," together with the goddess of the harvest, Demeter:

You can read more about the cornucopia at Wikipedia. This Roman mosaic shows the personification of The Year, holding a cornucopia of prosperity: