Symbols - What does heaven look like
Nepenthe (Ancient Greek: Νηπενθές), is a medicine for sorrow, literally - a "drug of forgetfulness" mentioned in ancient Greek literature and Greek mythology, depicted as originating in Egypt.
The word nepenthe first appears in the fourth book of Homer's Odyssey, Rhapsody D, (verses 220-221). Figuratively, it means "the one that chases away sorrow" (ne = not, penthos = grief, sorrow, mourning; so, literally, it means 'not-sorrow' or 'anti-sorrow'). In the Odyssey, Nepenthes pharmakon (i.e. an anti-sorrow medicine) is a magical potion given to Helen by an Egyptian queen. It quells all sorrows with forgetfulness.
“Some scholars think that nepenthe might have been an opium preparation, perhaps similar to laudanum. Alternatively, some believe it could have been an Egyptian wormwood elixir”.
This is the literal interpretation with a little speculation added. But I believe nepenthe was simply symbolically a means of forgetting, of helping someone to forget grief.
Edgar Allan Poe – from The Raven
Then methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot falls tinkled on the tufted floor
‘Wretch’ I cried ‘thy God hath lent thee – by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite – respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore
Quaff oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore’
Quoth the Raven ‘Nevermore!’
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