The Legend of the Olive
A Greek Myth

A Greek legend holds the cultivated olive tree to be the result of a quarrel between Athena, the goddess of wisdom and science, and Poseidon, the god of the sea, who fought over the protection of a new town. In order to designate a protector, Zeus (the king of the gods), offered each one the possibility of making a gift to humanity. Man would decide between them by choosing the most useful gift.

So Poseidon waved his trident and a magnificent horse able to carry rider and weapons, drag chariots and win battles sprang from a cliff.
Then Athena bent over a piece of ground, touched it with her lance and an eternal tree able to feed, to treat injuries and all ailments sprang out.

The olive tree, the tree which had come out of the ground, was proclaimed the most useful gift to humanity and Athena got the protection of the city that still bears her name – Athens.

The story of the olive tree got lost in the mists of time and merges with the story of the civilizations that have succeeded one another in the Mediterranean and left their indelible mark on the culture of this part of the world. Strongly related to lives of the Mediterranean area’s populations, the eternal tree has been providing them with food, lighting and remedies for centuries…
The olive tree first appeared in its wild form over 14,000 years ago. Fossilized leaves dating from 8,000 BC have been found in Roquevaire, France (one of these is exhibited in the Olive Tree Museum in Nyons, Drôme).
Egyptians attributed the art of growing the olive and extracting its oil for their purification rituals to Isis, the wife of Osiris.