Don’t be afraid but be respectful of divine creatures!
They stretch their arms to the sky in search of a contact they will never reach.
Yet those trees one day were able to walk, breathe and shout.
They were once children.
They were Messapians, yes, they themselves, perhaps one day designated to become proud warriors.
The exuberance of adolescence and that typical male swagger was fatal.
Epimelid’s nymphs, sweet and beautiful nymphs who were friends with Dionysus, rejoiced in the creation making elegant dance steps.
The young Messapian shepherds saw them, abandoned their flock for which they were responsible, and challenged the girls, unaware of their nature. “We are able to dance much better than you do,” they exclaimed boldly. “We challenge you!”. The girls began to dance, guided by those arrogant shepherds from whom the rough and raw essence shone through every step.
The “challenge” came to an end. The shepherds unjustly claimed their victory in a game.
A human cannot challenge a divine creature. Never. the nymphs had revealed their identity. The weight of those few simple words reached the ears of the young shepherds so quickly that they did not have time to escape.
The eternal dancers cursed the children who began to turn into olive trees.
Terror took hold of them and sculpted itself in the face, just as a thick layer of bark replaced the skin.
That place of curse and perennial torment, in the shadow of the sacred stones, where Hercules long afterward would undertake part in one of his twelve labors against the giants Leuterni.
The legend became a warning for all mortals who would have once again intended to challenge the divine.
Legend or Truth ?
“What we do know is, that there’s always an element of truth in every legend”.
Article By: Anna Maria Mengoli & Davide Mengoli
Photo Copyright: Anna Maria Mengoli & Davide Mengoli, Salento with love, Puglia.