In Ancient Greece, throwing an apple meant love
It gives new meaning to “How do you like them apples?” But in ancient Greece, this was a valid display of affection for someone. Why? I’m glad you asked!
The mythological Greek goddess of chaos, strife, and discord was known as Eris, a lovely goddess I’m sure everyone loved hanging out with 😉 In typical Eris fashion, she became very angry at the fact that she was excluded from the grand wedding of Peleus, son of Aeacus, king of Aegina, and the sea-nymph Thetis. They are well-known in mythology as the parents of Achilles, and so of course this was the wedding to be at.
Eris decided to throw some of her patented Eris discord into the mix by taking a golden apple with the inscription Καλλίστη (Kalliste, sometimes transliterated Kallisti, ‘For the most beautiful one’) and throwing it into the wedding party. Three goddesses in attendance, Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, all claimed the apple as their own. To resolve this dispute, Paris of Troy was selected to choose the proper recipient. This can only end well, right? First, he was bribed by both Athena and Hera, and then Aphrodite swayed him with the most beautiful woman in the ancient world – Helen of Sparta. Of course, Paris chose Aphrodite as the recipient of the apple (which was also indirectly a cause of the Trojan War, but that’s a story for another day).
The apple thereafter was considered sacred to Aphrodite, and to throw an apple at someone was symbolic as a declaration of love. Also, to catch the thrown apple was a sign of your acceptance of that love. Plato proved this by stating:
I throw the apple at you, and if you are willing to love me, take it and share your girlhood with me; but if your thoughts are what I pray they are not, even then take it, and consider how short-lived is beauty.
— Plato, Epigram VII
So there you have! Leave it to the ancient Greeks to put meaning in throwing fruit at one another. I say we bring this tradition back, just please don’t hurt anyone with surprise apple throws! Make sure they are aware so they can catch it and reciprocate your affection 🙂