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The Cover
February 28, 2007

Pomegranate Jars

Author Affiliations

The Cover Section Editor: M. Therese Southgate, MD, Senior Contributing Editor.

JAMA. 2007;297(8):781. doi:10.1001/jama.297.8.781

The pomegranate, it seems, has been around for at least as long as mankind itself, serving, appropriately enough, as both scapegoat and benefactor: whereas its multisyllabic name rolls deliciously off the tongue, its tartness puckers the mouth. Touted as a therapeutic agent since ancient times, it has also been blamed for all the ills of mankind, from Eve's fateful choice in the Garden of Eden to Persephone's decision in Pluto's underworld.

On the other hand, the pomegranate also became a prominent symbol of human fertility: when it is opened it spills an abundance of shiny, ruby-colored seeds. Its image was embroidered on the hem of the High Priest Aaron's robe, and its likeness was carved into the capitals of Solomon's temple. Medieval tapestries show the mythical unicorn tied to a pomegranate tree. Botticelli put a pomegranate in his Madonna's hand. Shakespeare chose a pomegranate tree for the tryst of Romeo and Juliet.