At least in an ancient Greek myth tells that oranges were known as the fruits of the Gods. They were often referred as the ‘golden apples’ that Hercules stole as part of his quest.
The Garden of the Hesperides, Atlas' daughters, was Hera's orchard in the far western corner of the world, where either a single tree or a grove of trees bearing immortality-giving golden apples grew. Hera placed in the garden a never-sleeping, hundred-headed dragon (named Ladon) as an additional safeguard. The 11th Labor of Hercules was to steal the golden apples from the garden. He stole the apples by asking Atlas to steal the apples and in return he would hold up the sky for him. After Atlas picked the apples Hercules asked Atlas to hold up the sky for him while he made a pad of the lion skin. He never took back his job of holding up the sky and ran away.
Why do we think that the golden apples were really oranges? In many languages, the orange is referred to as a "golden apple". For example, the Greek χρυσομηλιά, and Latin pomum aurantium both literally describe oranges as "golden apples". Other languages, like German, Finnish, Hebrew, and Russian, have more complex etymologies for the word "orange" that can be traced back to the same idea and root of the word related to apple.
In later years it was thought that the "golden apples" of myth might have actually been oranges, a fruit unknown to Europe and the Mediterranean before the Middle Ages. Under this assumption, the Greek botanical name chosen for all citrus species was Hesperidoeidē (Ἑσπεριδοειδῆ, "hesperidoids"). It was also used by Carl Linnaeus, who gave the name Hesperidesto an order containing the genus Citrus, in allusion to the golden apples of the Hesperides, and is preserved in the term Hesperidium for the fruits of citrus and some other plants.
One reason why oranges might be considered to be "magical" in so many stories is because they bear flowers and fruit at the same time, unlike any other non-citrus fruit.
In Ancient Rome citrus fruits such as Oranges and Lemons were little known if at all although opinions differ. For example there are frescos on walls in Pompeii depicting fruits that look rather like oranges. They would have in any case been seen as an exotic fruit rather than being in common use.
Have you wanted to know: which came first, orange the fruit or orange the color? Both scenarios are plausible, but in the case of orange, the color was named after the fruit. (Have we lost you yet?)
Unlike the chicken, we can follow the etymological trail, and know with certainty that the fruit came first -- by 300 years no less. The first instance of the word in Anglo manuscript, "pume orange," dates back to the 13th century (and it was adapted from old French "pomme d'orenge" ). And the first use of the word to describe the color is first noted in the 16th century.
If it weren't for orange (the fruit) we would probably know the color as geolurēad (yellow-red). That's just one more reason to appreciate the wonderful orange fruit.
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