I recently received a query about a clue from a general knowledge puzzle in our Colossus magazine that went: ‘seedy fruit believed by some to be Eve’s Garden of Eden fruit.’ The answer is not apple, as many might think, but pomegranate, although some also feel it may have been a fig.
But it made me realise that the poor old apple has been taking the blame all this time for tempting the hapless pair. The Bible didn’t specify which fruit it was, although it had a fairly dramatic effect. One minute Adam and Eve were happy and carefree in a beautiful garden, then after one bite of the fruit they were damned as sinners.
The reason the apple may have been named is down to Latin. The Latin word for apple is malum, which also means ‘evil’. Also, the idea of the apple being the special fruit may have developed in Western Europe, where apples were a lot more familiar than in the Middle East, where it’s generally too hot for them to thrive. Ancient artwork in France and Germany depict Adam and Eve with the apple whereas Italian and Byzantine artists tend to go with the fig.
The expression apple of discord comes from Greek mythology, and means a small matter that could lead to a bigger dispute. It comes from the famous tale in Greek mythology known as the Judgement of Paris. The Golden Apple, from the Garden of Hesperides, was offered to the winner of a beauty contest between three goddesses, Paris being the judge. The poor man couldn’t win
that one, and by choosing Aphrodite over Hera and Athena, set off the Trojan War.
Despite this, the apple has a squeaky clean reputation. To be apple-cheeked is to look rosily healthy and wholesome. And there’s the apple for the teacher (or is that bribery once more?) And of course, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.
To be the apple of someone’s eye is to be a person of whom one is very fond. It appears five times in the Bible. But don’t upset the apple cart, especially if there’s a rotten apple.
The Australian expression she’s apples meaning ‘everything’s fine’ comes from the Cockney rhyming slang ‘Apples and spice and all things nice’. As with most things Australian, it was shortened.
The world-famous Granny Smith apple originated in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, where Maria Ann Smith lived after she emigrated from Sussex, England. She created a hybrid of two species of apple and her orchards were well-known in Sydney.