SD on Lotus Eaters

OK, so I hear frequent references to lotus eaters (generally it’s *the * lotus eaters). They appear to be people who, well, eat loutuses (?) and walk around high all the time.

My questions:

  1. Where did this term originate? I presume that this has something to do with Buddhism, but always makes me think of Robert E Howard whenever I hear of it.

  2. Is there a particular type of lotus that’s eaten or can I go down to the local gardening supply store, pick up some lotus (when they’re in season of course) and trip all the way home? Is this why Nero Wolfe was always so pacid?

I’m assuming that the phrase itself is metaphorical, but if actually eating the lotus would make one loopy and/or is a violation of board rules, please just answer #1.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.


or Lotophagi (ltf´j´´) (KEY) , a fabulous people who occupied the north coast of Africa and lived on the lotus, which brought forgetfulness and happy indolence. They appear in the Odyssey. When Odysseus landed among them, some of his men ate the food. They forgot their friends and home and had to be dragged back to the ships. “The Lotus-Eaters” by Tennyson has become a classic of English poetry.

It is from The Odyssey by Homer:

Nero Wolfe grew orchids.

A type of lotus known as ‘sacred blue lotus’ (Nymphaea caerulea) contains aporphine or apomorphine – some sites I found said one, some said the other. Apomorphine is a derivative of aporphine, though I suspect they may be used synonymously. Apomorphine is active at dopamine receptors, so I suspect it may result in sacred blue lotus having some psychoactivity. Apomorphine (prepared synthetically by treating morphine with concentrated HCl) is used therapeutically as an emetic (induces vomiting).

Unfortunately, most of the sites I found were offering sacred blue lotus for sale as alternatives to marijuana or hallucinogens, so I think some of the information may be exaggerated or erroneous. It’s true that apomorphine is active at dopamine receptors, though (Mol Pharmacol. 1984 Jan;25(1):18-23).

Historically, sacred blue lotus grew in the Nile region. This would explain why Homer knew of ‘lotus-eaters’.

The Tennyson poem, which for some reason spells “Lotos” with two o’s, includes the famous lines,

Not being a morning pig, I’ve always wanted to find this land.