Apples in Mythology

Apples in Mythology

Throughout time, apples have been revered by cultures around the world. In various mythologies, apples are used as a symbol of love, beauty, and wisdom.

Greek Mythology

Gaia (Mother Earth) presented an apple tree to Zeus and Hera on their wedding day as a symbol of their love.

painting of a woman holding an apple
Julie Le Brun as Atalanta

The huntress Atalanta refused to marry unless the suitor could defeat her in a foot race. One suitor, Milanion, accomplished this by dropping three golden apples (gifts from Venus, the goddess of love) during the race. Atalanta stopped to pick them up, lost the race, and married Milanion.

Eris, the goddess of discord, became enraged because she was not invited to the wedding of a fellow god and goddess. She tossed the guests an apple with the inscription, "For the Fairest." Three goddesses, Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite thought the apple was intended for them. To end the dispute, Paris, a mortal, was given the task of judging. The apple was awarded to Aphrodite. The other goddesses were furious and brought devastation on Paris and his family. According to legend, the clamor eventually led to the Trojan War.

Teutonic Mythology

The god Bragi was distinguished for his nobility and wisdom. He married Idun, the goddess of eternal youth and the guardian of the "golden apples." Her magic prevented the gods from aging.

In Native American Indian Mythology
painting of a woman holding a red apple by its stem. A man is kneeling in front of the woman looking intently at the apple
Idun and the Apples

To the Iroquois, the apple tree is the Central Tree of Life.

In the Bible

The apple tree was regarded as the Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Immortality.


Information on this page is from Olwen Woodier’s  Apple CookbookApple Cookbook was first published as The Apple Cookbook in 1984. All of the information in the previous edition was reviewed and updated, and new recipes and information were added. 
Woodier, Olwen. The Apple Cookbook. Pownal, Vt: Garden Way Pub., 1984
Woodier, Olwen. Apple Cookbook. Clarksburg, MA: Storey Publishing LLC., 2001