Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Apollo Smintheus—The Mouse God

There is a temple on the island of Tenedos dedicated to Apollo Smintheus, the Mouse God. According to Clyde Keeler, the cult of Apollo Smintheus thrived for 3,000 years. It all began when soldiers from Crete invaded Asia Minor and were victorious because mice had gnawed through the leather straps of their enemies’ shields.

Living in the temple were strange creatures—white mice. They scampered unmolested throughout the temple and were used to predict the future. According to Pliny “By the learning of soothsayers, observed it is, that if there be a store of white ones bred it is a good signe and presageth prosperitie.” (Quoted in Keeler, C.E. (1931). The Laboratory Mouse. Its Origins, Heredity and Culture. Harvard University Press, Cambridge.)

To finish up today's post, here are a couple of recent studies using mice:

Making a smarter mouse

Immunization against diabetes