If you have ever read Homer’s Odyssey or are familiar with the stories told in Greek mythology, then it is more than likely that you have heard of the lotus flower and its powers in the Land of the lotus eaters. There have also been references to the powers of this flower in movies such as Percy Jackson and the Lighting Thief.
However, not many people are aware of just who the lotus eaters truly were, or if they even existed. Read further to get a brief history of who these people were, and where they were may have lived.
In Greek mythology, it is said that the lotus eaters lived on an island, and there are references in the story of Odysseus that allow us to take a glimpse at just how powerful the lotus had on their lives.
The island in which Odysseus and his men found themselves swept to was said to be full of the beautiful lotus flower. This was the main source of food for the inhabitants, and it was suggested with just one bite of the flower that a person would find themselves in a state of blissful forgetfulness.
W. Heath Robinson [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
In the stories the lotus flower is said to be a narcotic, and anyone who partakes in the consumption of this flower is destined to find him or herself in a sleep of peaceful apathy. However, there are variations as to exactly what a lotus-eater is, and indeed if it was actually lotus that they were eating. It has been suggested that they may have actually been consuming the poppies that frequently grow in the area.
References to Lotus eaters in the odyssey, or Lotophagi, which simply means more than one lotus-eater, are found throughout mythological texts as well as through historical references.
In a figurative sense a lotus-eater is simply an individual who prefers a life of pleasure and luxury rather than worrying about practical concerns.
These historical accounts have said the island of the lotus-eaters were located off of the coast of Libya, while other accounts have it off the coast of Tunisia on the island of Meninx. All of the locations that have been suggested to be the home of the lotus eaters are located close to the coasts of North Africa.
Those that wrote of the island suggested it was merely a place of fiction, and time and distortion of facts was the reasoning for the accounts.
The concept of just exactly what the lotus is has been debated throughout history. Some people suggest it is the blue water lily of Egypt, the opium poppy, or a tree in which the berries were used to make wine.
Nonetheless, each flower or berry in question is said to possess the same narcotic or psychoactive effects, and any person who eats even the smallest portion will be destined to live on the island in a state of bliss until they break free from the power of the lotus flower.
Considering the flower is a staple food for the islanders suggests that the person will be trapped on the island for the rest of their days with little or no care about the rest of the world.
Regardless if the account is true, derives from truth, or is purely fictional; the reference of 'eating the lotus flower' is still used today. This has been a phrase that has been used for centuries to suggest an individual is out of touch with reality and lives purely to indulge in the luxuries of life. It is hard to say that the lotus-eaters were not real people living on a non-fictional island simply because once you eat the flower you may never return back to speak of its powers.
With so much mystery shrouding the lotus flower, the island, and its inhabitants it is safe to say we will find ourselves in search of the truth for centuries to come.
The greatest questions left to answer are; do we already inhabit the island?, and do we eat from its narcotic fruit still today? If the answer is yes, then it is safe to say we are all lotus-eaters in a state of blissful forgetfulness, and show little concern in regards to the real problems of the world today. Nonetheless, it is without question that there will always be tales of an island full of fruit that leaves the inhabitants living in a happy, carefree, and dreamy state.