Minthe in Greek Mythology
Minthe was a nymph in Greek mythology. Some ancient sources specifically classify Minthe as a Naiad or water nymph. She was associated in legend with the plant that is said to be named in honor of her myth, and this is the familiar aromatic mint plant. So let us now learn more about how the nymph Minthe was transformed into mint.
According to the story, Minthe was a beautiful water nymph who attracted the attention of Hades. Hades was the stern ruler of the Greek Underworld and the husband of the goddess Persephone. It seems, however, that even Persephone’s obvious charms could not keep the attention of Hades at all times. The Underworld god therefore engaged in an illicit – but not terribly well hidden – affair with the Naiad Minthe.
Naturally, Persephone found out about the relationship between her husband and the water nymph. And in a scenario that is all too familiar in Greek myth, the spurned wife took revenge on her husband’s mistress. Minthe became the unfortunate object of Persephone’s wrath. The goddess of the Underworld began to step on Minthe, beating the poor Naiad with furious kicks. Minthe however was transformed into the mint plant, and with each tread of Persephone’s foot, this plant released a delightful scent. This is the myth of how the aromatic mint plant received its name.
It is worth mentioning that there is an intriguing reference to the transformation of Minthe in the Metamorphoses of Ovid (Book X, line 729 ff.).
The name Minthe is sometimes spelled Menthe by some writers.