53 Its ancestors nurtured humanity with their content right frompre-history, whenmenwerestill nomadic gatherers and food for wild beasts, and the first timid gods still walked on earth. At the dawn of civilization, the winged Assyrian genies brandished pinecones during the sacred rites of purification, until Greek and Roman gods inherited from them. When it was still young and sacred to the history of humanity, the pine cone participated starring in the cult of Dionysian mysteries : soaked in honey, it was carried on top of a ferula rod in thyrsus, the ritual stick of Dionysus with his court of satyrs and maenads. Those were the days, days of glory and respect when, according to Euripides, «he holds the torch high, our leader, the Bacchic One, blazing flame of pine, sweet smoke like Syrian incense, trailing from his thyrsus» ( Bacchae , 407-406 BC), that is when honey poured from its tip and the god along with his followers spread it on vegetation, on animal creatures and onmen, in a rite of fertilization with a sexual symbolism which was anything but implied. It therefore became bearer of fertility with its seeds, equivalent in shape to the male member and, in content, to the power of fecundation as to the virile and vital strength of the carnal act: the prayer of the faithful was glibly addressed now to the simulacrum in the temple chapel, now to the nuptial bed or to the sweat-soaked beds of the lupanarians. In its heyday, its chest was pinned with medals marked "Here lies immortality", "To you we ask for abundance", "Symbol of wisdom", "Here is the third eye", "Temple of the soul". To honour the dead its shape was carved on stelae, on burial walls, on urns; to support the living, its fruits were used as an aphrodisiac to awaken a dormant organ. Some illustrious examples of those who sang strobilus’ (another name for pinecone) and pine nuts’ deeds and glories: in Naturalis Historia , Pliny wrote: «The kernels of the pine nuts allay thirst, and assuage acridities gnawing pains in the stomach; they tend also to recruit the strength». In Ars amatoria , Ovid considered it one of the food most capable of promoting love. The Greek Galen, father of all doctors, recommended taking a mixture of pine nuts, honey and almonds for three consecutive nights. Then the Empire fell, and its Pantheon with it. The ancient iconographies disappeared or changed their clothes to survive the middle age. But not all of them. When the monumental bronze strobilus called Pignone was unearthed from that mixture of ground and pagan myths’ fragments that was the soil of Rome, in medieval times, it had slept for centuries. It was born in the second century after Christ from the hands of a certain Publius Cincius Savius, it had been ornament of a fountain at the Temple of Isis, in Campus Martius, in Rome, and it was decided that, after its awakening, it would have adorned and decorated the quadrangle of the ancient St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican, today disappeared. Therefore, the Pignone went from being part of a pagan sacred place to the very heart of Christianity, followed by its fame and that of its seeds. There, where erotes had to turn into dull Christian creatures, and sileni were driven back with pitchforks deep into the woods to the cry of Satan! , it had won: it was still a symbol of eternity and its content was still considered aphrodisiac, almost pharmacological . For medieval Arab medicine it was recommended to the paralytics, as a restorative of the convalescents and, again, salvation of the impotents. For Europeans it was a remedy for the treatment of cataracts and gout. Even in the fifteenth century, the chef Bartolomeo Sacchi wrote: «Pine kernels eaten rather frequently with raisins are even believed to excite latent passion. They also have the same force seasoned with sugar. Sugar is melted, and pine nuts are rolled in it with a scoop and made into the shape of a pastille. Gold leaf is added to these, for magnificence, I believe, and for pleasure» ( De honesta voluptate et valetudine , 1474). What now remains of the reputation of a seed once consumed with gold, which adorned the earthly mansions of gods? What place have we reserved for pine nuts and strobilus in our contemporaneity? Too little, considering its magnificent aura, if not the numbering of its nutritional properties and the mockery of a list that plays: Calcium 16 mg / Magnesium251mg / Potassium600mg / Sodium 2 mg , as well as praises as "rich in proteins" or "zero cholesterol". An aura mixed with the contemporary indignity of being reduced in green sauces, the shame of being laced with the humblest among the seeds to finish on cakes of industrial production or, at best, to become Christmas decorations. The soul is weakened by misfortune, and to a pessimistic eye the future of myth does not promise anything good. Global warming is estimated to have directly and indirectly decimated thousands of hectares occupied by North American pine forests. Armies of xylophagous beetles destroying and devouring are proliferating. From one hemisphere of the planet to another, ecosystems are changing, pine forests are disappearing to make timber for disposable furniture, erosion is compromising our grounds; each and every summer, Mediterranean forests go up in smoke. Given its story worthy of a literary heroine, are the letters of the word extinction perhaps outlining on the strobilus’ and its seeds’ banner or, as in the past, misfortune is just a temporary inconvenience? To date, the final is unknown.