In Ancient Greek Mythology, nectar is the drink of gods and goddesses who lived on Mount Olympus, the mythical home of many of the deities. The stories explain that Ancient Greek deities ate ambrosia and drank nectar with it, as their nourishment.
The nectar of the gods was a drink with magical properties. Not only it was able to heal humans from any kind of illnesses, it also gave them the gift of becoming immortal like the gods themselves, meaning that they never had to die, unlike other humans. Ambrosia also had similar magical abilities.
Many humans desired to taste the sweet flavor of the drink or the food of their gods and goddesses, but most of them never succeeded. Stealing nectar or ambrosia was forbidden by the deities, and if someone tried to do it anyway, had to face serious consequences, punishments, or even death.
One mythological story explains a time when a man named Tantalus decided that he wanted to taste the foods and drinks of the gods, and even more importantly, to steal them from the gods to introduce them to his people. He wanted his people to learn all the secrets of the gods and to become immortal like his deities themselves were.
Tantalus did not succeed. He received a terrible punishment from the gods: they banished him to the bottom of the Underworld, where he would be suffering from hunger and thirst forever. What’s worse, he was destined to stand in a river, as a part of his punishment, eternally, without ever being able to reach the water to drink from. He also would not be able to reach the branches of fruit trees growing around him, as the branches would move farther away from him, any time he tried to pick some fruit.
The English word “tantalizing” refers to the sufferings of Tantalus, who had to see food and drink for eternity, without being able to enjoy them ever again. This word is often used in situations when someone wants something but unable to have them.
The ancient Greek gods and goddesses did not only guard the nectar and the ambrosia to keep their secrets away from all humankind. Stories explain that they had to keep consuming them regularly to create their divine life force, which ancient Greeks called “Ichor.” Without drinking nectar and drinking ambrosia, their divine powers and immortality would quickly begin to fade, so they had to make sure that no one else had access to consuming them, but the divinities alone.
In some cases, though, when the deities saw that it was for the best, the gods decided to intervene, and they chose to use nectar and ambrosia for their magical, restorative abilities, to help humans to heal from illnesses or injuries, or even to resurrect from death.
Today, the word nectar is still used widely when referring to the sugary liquids of plants that bees collect to turn into honey – a sweet substance that can be eaten, drunk, and perhaps tastes very similar to the food and drink of the Ancient Greek deities.
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