A wealth of stories about the rose have been handed down from generation to generation, tales for which we cannot really find the beginnings, but the telling goes on and on. Perhaps the story of the rose, as told in Greek legend, best explains the origin of the rose and its affiliation with romantic and special secret things in all our lives.
Greek legend says that early one morning as Flora, goddess of all flowers, was walking through the woods, she came upon the dead body of a beautiful young girl. Flora was saddened to see such a lovely creature dead, and she decided to give her new life by transforming her into the most beautiful of all flowers.
To accomplish this, she called on all the gods of Olympia to aid her in the task. She asked her husband, Zephyrus, the west wind, to blow away all the clouds so that Apollo, the sun, could send warm rays of blessings over the dead form.
Flora then called Aphrodite to give beauty and the three graces (brilliance, joy and charm) to this new flower. Next, Dionysus, the god of wine, was to add the final touch by giving fragrance and nectar. When all was done, the gods and goddesses admired their work and declared this the most beautiful of all flowers. The goddess Flora then gathered dew drops, gave the new flower life, and crowned her the queen of all flowers. Flora then called upon the goddesses Aurora and Iris to spread the word of the new flower’s beauty. Aurora borrowed the hue of the rose with which to paint the morning sky and to dye the blushes of the wood nymphs so that all could see its beauty. Iris borrowed only a tinge of color from the new flower to add to the brilliance of her rainbows.
Aphrodite was asked to provide the name for this loveliest of all flowers. She gave the name of rose in honor of her son Eros, the Greek god of Love. (If we rearrange one letter of the word rose, we have Eros. Eros = Rose = Love.) Flora then presented the rose to Eros in hopes that it would always be the choice of lovers and the flower of romance. In time, Eros gave the rose to the god of silence, Harpocrates, to bribe him to conceal the weaknesses of the gods. From this, the rose became a symbol of silence and secrecy as well as love.
In ancient times, a rose was attached to the ceiling of council chambers, meeting rooms and confessionals as an indication that everyone present under the rose, or “sub rosa,” was sworn to secrecy.
Those who doubt this assignment of the rose need only read in history that the lovely Cleopatra once greeted Marc Antony on a carpet of rose petals eighteen inches deep, and when she went sailing for pleasure, she drenched the sails of her ship with rose perfume so that the very winds were lovesick, and they should be convinced.
Information Provided Courtesy of Roses Inc., P.O. Box 99, Haslett, MI 48840.
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