It is thought that Homer is referring to snowdrops in the Odyssey: “the flower as white as milk, the gods call it moly”. Moly was the herb given to Odysseus to protect him from goddess Circe’s deadly potions.

Odysseus and his crew were returning from the Trojan War when they came upon Circe’s palace. “Hermes then gave Odysseus an herb [called Moly] that would protect him from Circe’s spells. When Odysseus reached the palace, Circe invited him in and attempted to enchant him. However, the herb protected him against her spell, and he drew his sword and threatened her. The sorceress fell to her knees and pleaded for her life”. From the Myths & Legends website.

Bringing the story full circle, chemists have identified and extracted galantamine from the bulb, which is now synthesised and used as medication in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, among other conditions.