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November 07, 2007


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Argh. That excerpt is a classic example of why I hate Wikipedia.

a) Ruck and Staples were predisposed to find examples of narcotic and psychedelic plant and fungus use throughout the ancient world. Do you remember how I once said philology was like a Rorschach blot for a certain type of scholar?

b) Who knows why there's an excursus on poppy goddess iconography in the middle of an article on pomegranates.

c) Kerenyi was a mythographer, not a linguist. He's right that there are a lot of pre-Hellenic survivals in ancient Greece, and that Rhea is likely one of them. (Rhea was the mother of Cretan Zeus. On Crete, Zeus was depicted as a long-haired youth, and people were shown his tomb.) But, roa/rodia !<= rhea, sorry; there aren't any parallel sound changes. I'm a little surprised Kerenyi didn't work in rimmon.

A much better page on the pomegranate can be found here:


Dennis Brennan

Some fruit juice stains will come out if you immerse the garment in boiling water for a while. Definitely works with cherry and strawberry, don't know about grape or pomegranate (though I'm sure that with my kids, it's only a matter of time before I have to find out.)

Word to the wise-- take the shirt off first.

The New York City High School Math Teacher

Oxygen bleaches will do the trick - the red colorants in the fruits are anthocyanidin glucosides: delphinidin 3-glucoside and 3,5-diglucoside, cyanidin 3-glucoside and 3,5-diglucoside and pelargonidin 3-glucoside and 3,5-diglucoside.

Nucleophiles (a lewis base like, say, sodium percarbonate aka Oxyclean) will pop the pyrylium O=C double bond, screwing up the optical qualities of the flavylium (and rendering it colorless).

Now, what is interesting is that the tannins in the spongy pith have been used for millenia as primary yellow dyes or secondary mordants in conjunction with turmeric or walnut - apparently that shit never comes out - like a tea stain.


If you ever have an opportunity (unless you have had one already) drive to Meghri during this time of year, which is essentially Pomegranate country. The trees grow like weeds there side by side with Persimmon trees. It is interesting to observe what happens to the fruit when it ripens on the tree branch. Basically if a pomegranate is not picked it explodes, releasing many but not all of the seeds as a result. You could probably manage a weekend trip there before the end of the month when the snow starts. Apparently there are a couple places to stay, I know of one modest bed-and-breakfast at least. People will sell you pomegranates that they pick from their own trees if you ask them--when I went two years ago I brought back 11 kilos with me to Yerevan for 6000 dram if memory serves. You can find the three or four varieties that exist there (the ones that I know of anyway).


Doug, you've been out of the country too long. Pomegranates are the new cool fruit(or at least they are here in the boonies, where trends arrive a few years late). "Pom" brand juice in the supermarkets, "pom"-tinis at bars, "pom"-grape and "pom"-apple jiuce (replacing the cran-tastic drink of a few years ago).

And bins full of perfect, identical California Pomegranates in most major Supermarkets every fall.

Here's an article on the California Pomagranate explosion


"According to Mintel Research, a total of 478 new pomegranate products hit the market last year. Among them were 19 new pomegranate desserts, 32 sauces, 17 spreads, and 216 new pomegranate drinks - not the least of which was the Starbucks Pomegranate Frappucino. "

Also -- just eat the seeds.

Bernard Guerrero

I can attest both to the explosion of pomegranate-based products and to the efficacy of Ikram's suggestion that you just eat the whole thing.

NYCHSMT, thanks for the lesson on stain chemistry. My wife will doubtless get a kick out of that.

"But, roa/rodia !"ea" in some cases but not others?

Bernard Guerrero

Wow, that last bit got mangled but good. It should look like:

"I'm not a linguist of any sort, so I'll ask a no doubt silly question. Is the requirement of parallel sound changes really a requirement? I can see why it would make testing a given hypothesis like the rhoa>rhea one easier, but what's the theoretical/empirical basis for the requirement itself. Can't 'oa' change to 'ea' in some cases but not others?"


The empirical requirement is, all sound changes are regular. It's called the 'neogrammarian hypothesis', but that makes it sound tentative and untried. It's *why* comparative historical linguistics is so rigorous within the social sciences. (Yes, I know about the exceptions, and I know about Blust's critique within Austronesian too.)

There's no strong theoretical reason why this should be so, but you can't have everything. I'll settle for being able to reconstruct nonmaterial culture from 5000 years ago, thanks.

There is actually a minor figure in Greek mythology named after the pomengranate: Rhoeo, exactly as one would expect. It's a weird little story, smacking of etiological folktale, but not very similar to anything to do with Zeus (even Cretan Zeus).

Doug M.


Doug M.


The pomegranate mother was put into a box and floated out to sea. She landed on our island where she gave birth to her son, who became a priest of his father the god. His daughters, her grandchildren, are Oil, Wine, and Grain. And now you know how these good things came to our island.

Or something like.

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