The rose, cultivated for well over 3,000 years and known from time immemorial as the queen of the flowers, is thought to have originated in Asia Minor. The genus name Rosa is derived from the Greek word rodon , meaning ‘red’. The ancient Persians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans used the rose not only as a garden ornamental but also as the main ingredient in various perfumes and cosmetics. In Greece and Rome, the rose was the favourite flower of the goddess of the flowers, the Greek chloris and her Roman counterpart Flora. In festivals for these goddesses, the people bedecked themselves and their animals with flowers, using mostly roses. At Roman banquets roses were used lavishly for decoration and were even strewn on the floor. At the same banquets, the diners often wore rose garlands as a preventative against drunkenness.
In Greek myth, Chloris was said to have created the rose from the dead body of a beautiful nymph that she came upon in the woods. Chloris called on the other gods to help her transform the nymph ‘s body into a flower that would surpass all others in beauty. Aphrodite bestowed upon it beauty; the three graces – Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia donated their respective qualities of brilliance,, joy, and youthful bloom; Dionysus gave it nector and fragrance .When the flower was finished and its perfection was apparent to all, Chloris crowned it with a diadem of dewdrops proclaiming it the queen of flowers.
Probably the most frequently used flower in all literature, the beautiful rose with its forbidding thorns has been an arresting symbol for writers through the ages. The roses perfect blossom is associated with love, beauty, youth, perfection and even immortality ; its thorns with the pains of love and guilt ; its withering blossom with the ephemeral nature of beauty and youth .According to Christian legend, the rose grew in the Garden of Eden without thorns, but after the fall, thorns sprouted to remind man of his sinful and imperfect nature.
Roses of different colours often have special connotations the pink rose represents simplicity or happy love; the white rose stands for purity and innocence, often being associated with the Virgin Mary; the yellow rose means perfect achievement , and sometimes jealousy; and the red rose signifies passion and sensual desire, shame and occasionally blood and sacrifice. Many legends purport to explain how the red rose acquired its colour. Assuming the rose was originally white, the Greeks held that it became red from the blood of Aphrodite, who had pricked her foot on a thorn while trying to aid her beloved, dying Adonis. The Turks claim that the white rose was stained red by the blood of Mohammed , while Christian legend has the red rose resulting from the blood of martyrs.From the time of the ancient Egyptians the rose has been the token of silence. The Greeks gave it this meaning in a legend in which cupid bribes Harpocrates, the god of silence, with a rose to induce him to conceal the amorous affairs of his mother, Aphrodite.
Greek god of Silence.
Pink for simplicity or Happy Love.
White means Purity and Innocence.
Yellow for Perfect Achievement.
And the beautiful Red rose. Passion and Sensual Desire
For Teutonic peoples , the rose was the flower of the northern goddess of love, Freyja , who was known for her ability to keep secrets. The expression sub rosa ‘ literally ” under the rose”, means that a matter is to be kept in strict confidence. It stems from an old custom of attaching a rose to the ceiling ( or having one sculptured there ) to remind revelers that anyting said under the influence of wine was not to be repeated to others afterwards.
The rose has also been a popular heraldic flower for soldiers’ shields since roman times. The most famouse example is that of the English rose which came out of The War of the Roses (1455-1485 ) in which the House of York with the white rose as its heraldic emblem fought the House of Lancaster, whose symbol was the red rose. At the wars end the two houses were joined by the marriage of Henry V11 of Lancaster to Elizabeth of York. Henry became the first Tudor king, his symbol being a red and white Tudor rose, which is now the national flower of England.
King Henry V11 of Lancaster and Elizabeth of York.