(English) The Olive Tree in ancient Greece and Rome
The Olive was a wild tree which with careful cultivation would bear fruit. For its origins we have to look to the East. The transformation of the wild olive (Lat. oleaster, Gk. agricalso, kotinos and phylia) into a cultivated tree was the work of Syrian peoples, and from the Southeastern corner of the Mediterranean basin it entered and spread through Europe.
In his poems, Homer cites olive oil as a rare and expensive product reserved for the wealthy who would send for it from the East. The cultivated Olive tree is mentioned in all ancient civilisations as being one of the most important in existence. It was brought to Rome by the Greeks of Campania. The Greek for oil is Elaion, while Elaia is the cultivated olive tree. In Spain it can be found in the Mediterranean region, especially in Turdetania and in Baetica. During the times of the Roman Empire, the olive came to be cultivated throughout the Mediterranean.
The religions, let us say Mythology, of the ancient Greeks and Romans placed particular importance on the Olive, the tree and its branches being adopted as a symbol of various qualities and attributes.