The Oil, the Wheat, and the Wine

Venerating the goods of the earth is a custom that belongs to all people since the dawn of time, a real cult of food celebrated among every type of religion (polytheist and monotheist) and popular traditions.
Symbols of the various civilizations that followed one another in history and mentioned in mythology, sacred texts, and literature, they represent the essence of sharing.

Banquet during Ancient Rome

Painting of Roberto Bompiani at Getty Museum (source: Wikipedia)


What associate those elements that historically compose the so-called Mediterranean Triad? Oil, Wheat, and Wine, so different between them, are all fruits of the Earth, present a deep symbology and almost magical meanings.
First of all, we have to underline that the three elements represent human dignity, deriving from human work and sweat. Although initially spontaneous flora, during history, human beings have shown to be able to face rebel nature and to create these specific cultivations. This first point shows an anthropological and sociological approach and, above all, our second symbol: the strength of civilization.
Our three elements are also connected with mythology and religions. For example, the ancient Greeks and Romans venerated gods like Elaida, protector of the olive tree and oil and symbol of peace and prosperity; Ceres, protector of cereals and agriculture and symbol of abundance; Bacchus, protector of vine and symbol of drunkenness.
In the following years, also among the three Great Monotheist Religions and into their sacred texts we find these components, with specific and special meanings. Oil gives strength and beauty, with healing and nutritious powers: the olive sacred tree has always represented life, peace and the presence of God on the earth. Oil also symbolizes love, joy, strength, happiness, wisdom, friendship, and personal hygiene. In the Holy Bible and other books, we find wheat in the form of bread, a basic food made of water and ground wheat grains, expressing God’s love, life humility, and human dignity.
Anti-classist for excellence, it represents (more than the other components) the essence of sharing: the word companion, in fact, derives from the Latin "cum-panis" (to eat the same bread and divide it). Lastly, among religious faiths, wine is important for body health, gladdening the human heart and life. It represents the moment of parties and rituals, but also, more deeply, life and hope.

Finally, oil, wheat, and wine are often found in literature and poetry: many and different writers, of all the parts of the world (not only belonging to the Mediterranean countries), wrote about the basis of human diet, about the pleasure of eat and drink, the social value of these daily actions and looking
at these three elements as what we are made of (“we are what we eat and drink”). One of the most representative poems that mention all of these elements is Pablo Neruda, Ode to Oil.

Pablo Neruda 1963 - Nobel Prize in Literature

Pablo Neruda 1963 - Nobel Prize in Literature. (Source Mondadori. Wikipedia.)

As we can see, he dedicates an entire collection of poems to the goods of earth, but in this one, we find not only specific praise to oil but properly the fine connection between oil wheat and wine.
We leave you with an extract from Neruda, to read the oil as the element that effectively connects wheat and wine and as the seasoning of life. Just to understand its inner beauty, symbology, poetry.

Near the murmuring
In the grain fields, of the waves
Of wind in the oat-stalks
The olive tree
With its silver-covered mass
Severe in its lines
In its twisted
Heart in the earth
[...]

It's not only wine that sings
Olive oil sings too
It lives in us with its ripe light
And among the good things of the earth

I set apart,
Olive oil,

Your ever-flowing peace, your green essence
Your heaped-up treasure which descends
In streams from the olive tree.

[from Pablo Neruda, Ode to wine and other elementary odes]

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