Olive tree: from form and nature to symbolism

 

It would seem that the olive tree is a native of somewhere between the Caucasus, the Iranian plateau, the coasts of Syria and Palestine. From here it then spread to Asia Minor, Africa and Greece. In the words of Maria Vittoria Divincenzo, author of numerous botanical works: “it is a splendid plant, long-living and dignified, endowed with a simple beauty arising from its evergreen canopy, of a magnificent silver-green colour, and its trunk, which however contorted and knotty it may be, is always a symbol of vitality because it possesses a regenerating power unparallelled by any other crop tree”. These words lead us into a world of symbolism that knows no boundaries.

The ancient Greeks considered the olive tree a sacred plant and would use it to make wreaths to crown the victors in the Olympic games. In Roman times it adorned the heads of the most illustrious people. For the ancient Hebrews, it represented justice and wisdom. Finally, its shape and features give rise to a vast array of symbolical meanings in the Christian church. Its oil is now the symbol of regeneration and peace.

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