IX: Pomegranate

The Greeks' rigged game of pomegranate F/M/K.

IX: Pomegranate
A split pomegranate. Photo by Sahand Babali / Unsplash

Good morning. Today is nonidi, the 19th of Brumaire, Year CCXXXI. We celebrate la grenade, a fruit that contains berry-like seeds.

Grenades get their name from this fruit. While various cultures have hurled little surprises at enemies since ancient times (remember the baskets of catapulted snakes?), it was the Spanish and French who really took to it as a discipline first in the 16th century, forming regular companies of grenadiers (a tactic the British later famously took). The name "pomegranate" means "apple full of grains," which got shortened in French to just reference the shrapnel inside the fruit, and from there it got applied to the weapon.

Pomegranates have a very special but very different meaning in almost every major religion. Just focusing on the Mediterranean, they are a symbol of resurrection in Christianity (though, to be fair, what isn't?), a medicinal fruit in Islam (complete with medical advice straight from the Quran), and a metaphor for righteousness in Judaism (they're said to have 613 seeds, representing the 613 commandments of the Torah, which, at that number, yeah, who's counting?).

But nobody's had a longer and more complicated relationship with pomegranates than the Greeks, who have been locked in an epic game of fuck/marry/kill with the fruit for thousands of years.