Mountain Laurel
Wed, 24 Dec 2008 20:12:52 PST
On 24 Dec 2008, at 14:30, Mark Mazer wrote:

> >I seem to recall one ancient Greek city-state's army was wiped out after
> >they feasted on Kalmia honey, went unconscious, were discovered and killed by
> >another Greek city-state's army. Any confirmation?

The account is by Xenophon in "The Anabasis", commonly known as "The 
March of the Ten Thousand." It's an account of a Greek mercenary army left 
to its own devices in Mesopotamia and making their way overland though 
now-Armenia to the Black Sea.

Some of the soldiers ate honey during the trek and were sickened or driven 
mad. The plant responsible is believed to be /Rhododendron ponticum/.

The soldiers' famous shout on seeing the sea glinting in the distance 
"thalassa, thalassa!" is one of the immortal moments in all of literature.

The Wikipedia's article on Xenophon

is as good a place as any to start exploring, and includes a good map.

There's probably a Penguin Classics edition of The Anabasis in English for 
those wanting to read the book for themselves.

I am not aware of another account of toxic honey in the Greek literature, but 
I'm not an expert on the field so may be wrong-o.

Rodger Whitlock
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Maritime Zone 8, a cool Mediterranean climate
on beautiful Vancouver Island…

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