thursday book: the golden apple

We've all heard, at one point or another, of a Golden Apple. Or, of perhaps, The Golden Apple.

A Golden Apple was [maybe] first told of in Homer's Illiad, as the element that brought about the Trojan war. Put simply, the Greek Goddesses were in a feud: which was the fairest of them all? [copyright, Evil Queen] The honor of making that decision was bestowed upon Paris, Prince of Troy*. The Goddesses plead their cases looks with extravagant gifts. But it was Aphrodite's gift, the gift of love that conquered Paris' approval. And the Golden Apple became hers. She, in return offered him, not without generosity, a woman betrothed [actually, married] to another. And what other? King Melenaus. Paris, of course, did not ask twice. He fell in love with Helen, and they fled together to Troy, birthing not just the wrath of a king deprived of his beautiful wife, but also one of the world's best known epic wars.

In short, Aphrodite traded a war for her precious Golden Apple. [But just maybe for much more. Read on.]

Now, the reason I mention this little note, is to introduce Thursday's book: "The Golden Apple" which has nothing to do with the above. You will ask me [maybe not] why? Right? I'll tell you why. First because I wanted to contextualize the notion of the "Golden Apple", clarifying that my golden apple has nothing to do with the Greek peep's Golden Apple. But also because when I was twelve, and we were learning about Greek Mythology at school, we rehearsed for a small [mini, really] play that was the story of how the Trojan war began. There was no golden apple in the version I recalled.

Anyhow, this book is one that I have come to cherish dearly. It was given to me by my mother, and it is only after my love for illustration [children's illustration in particular] came to life that I realized the value of this gold-coated, 1971-edition hardcover book.

It speaks of the Bulgarian myth of the Golden Apple, and it has princes and princesses and kingdoms and dragons. [It's probably the non-satiric version of The Princess Bride, but with a completely different plot.] [Yeah, no it has nothing to do with The Princess Bride.]

As in all fairytales, the story begins with the all-too-familiar In a faraway country, where we learn that in that faraway country stands a beautiful apple tree, yielding a Golden Apple just once every year, an apple that always disappeared come morning light.

Duh. Golden apple y'all.

So this is when the king's three sons, all of them fearless and brave, decide to take down that golden apple... from its branch [not to literally take it down, obviously]. To do that, they must stay awake for one full night. Long story short, brother one and two fail [as in, fall asleep. Clearly, these two have never been acquainted with coffee]. Up next is brother three, who twists the story to his advantage, managing [quite impressively, and without coffee!] to remain awake during the entire night [I truly don't know how he does it]*, long enough to see the apple turn gold, to see a dragon appear out of nowhere and then to fight it off [without killing it], ultimately bringing that apple home.

Fulfilling the task of acquiring the apple, the prince should have been able to end that story right there, right then. But that was not the case. Because his curiosity gets triggered by the the blood tracks of the dragon that lead him to a hole in the ground. Embarking on another adventure, the prince discovers a whole new crowd, along with a whole new world, filled with new challenges. Needless to say, he succeeds, bringing home the pretty[iest] girl.

Now, will I tell you about it in detail? No. Because I don't want to summarize an otherwise lovely story, that I would encourage you to search for [or to borrow from me], and to enjoy reading.

All that you need to know, is that it is the apple, the most well-known symbol of temptation, that becomes the source of tragedy. Just like in the Greek myth.

[Except in the Bulgarian myth, the story actually has a happy ending; a shiny happy ending that comes shortly after the dark days.]

In the garden of Eden, the red apple was the forbidden fruit, the primal symbol of temptation. For Aphrodite, had it not been her greed to own that apple, and her desire to be known as the most beautiful Goddess, that led to the Trojan war? [It is important to note here, that the Golden Apple was originally given by Eris, Goddess of strife and discord.] I think Aphrodite knew that she was the most beautiful Goddess. Why did she need that apple? Because, to me, with that Golden Apple in her hands, Aphrodite automatically had power. And power was important in controlling, not just mount Olympus but also the Greek world.
[I could be wrong. I'm philosophizing.]

The same can be said of the golden apple in our story. An object, a fruit, that is so rare and so elusive and so verily forbidden, [because people literally could not get hold of it,] was tempting. It was not just precious, due to its Golden format, but also appeared once a year, and was snagged away by a dragon [whose existence, ironically, the people did not yet know of]. So the value of that apple doubled, and whoever obtained that apple, had power. Power, in my opinion, to do anything. To defeat the dragon, to defeat another dragon, and to win the hand of the most beautiful princess. [No spoilers, I promise.]

So, the next time you want to bite into an apple, think twice. Great power resides within.

Just kidding. [I know, I know, I'll come up with better jokes next time, I promise.]

Part of my post is me yapping on and on about the apple, and the other part is just me being mesmerized by the beautiful illustrations of Mira Iovceva. [I hope that I have written her name right.]

Aren't they beautiful? Cosette, I don't know what to say. The style is superior. The characters are so unique and the textures that you can almost feel if you place your hand on the page take you right inside the story [inside the dragon's hole, too, if you like].

Take a look for yourselves and dare to tell me that I am overreacting. [Jokes! I just hope that you agree with me!]

Have a golden night.

Inside Cover

* I referred myself to this website to get my Greek mythology info right:


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