The Greeks, the Romans, the Egyptians – even the Babylonians couldn’t get enough of the gooey golden stuff. Sugar craving, you say? That wasn’t the half of it.
1. Honey was used to cure almost everything – and with good reason. Its antibacterial properties were far superior for burns, abscesses, and wounds than the other two leading remedies: dung and rust.
2. Want to madden your opponents? Look no further. “Mad honey,” produced by bees from laurels, rhododendrons, and azaleas, contained potent compounds like grayanotoxin that did a number on hearts and nervous systems. More than one ancient army put mad honey in the path of the enemy, causing its mass collapse – followed by slaughter of the lambs.
3. A low dose of “mad honey” was also the get-high choice for oracle prophesying, ecstatic religious rites, adventurous drinkers, and merry maenad frenzy at women’s festivals.
4. Funeral feast cuisine: honeycakes were a must-have for every newly dead person to carry into the underworld. Why? They were needed to get past Cerberus, the 3-headed dog. The savage beast guarding the gates to Hades’ realm, Cerberus had an inexplicable sweet tooth.
5. Urgently need to embalm a corpse? Nine out of ten aristocrats, including Alexander the Great, preferred mellification, the elite art of embalming with honey. Did the technique get results? Certainly did for Alex, who looked Great for at least 538 years.
About the author: Vicki León is the author of 34 nonfiction books, her most recent being How to Mellify a Corpse.
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