(The). If you look at a leaf of myrtle in a strong
light, you will see that it is pierced with innumerable little
punctures. According to fable, Phædra, wife of Theseus fell in love
with Hippolotus, her step-son; and when Hippolotus went to the arena
to exercise his horses, Phædra repaired to a myrtle-tree in Troezen to
await his return, and beguiled the time by piercing the leaves with a
hair-pin. The punctures referred to are an abiding memento of this
In the Orlando Furioso Astolpho is changed into a
myrtle-tree by Acrisia.
The ancient Jews believed that the eating of myrtle leaves
conferred the power of detecting witches; and it was a superstition
that if the leaves crackled in the hands the person beloved would prove
The myrtle which dropped blood.
Æneas (book iii.) is represented as tearing up the Myrtle which
dropped blood. Polydorus tells us that the barbarous inhabitants of the
country pierced the Myrtle (then a living being) with spears and
arrows. The body of the Myrtle took root and grew into the bleeding
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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