Legend and Lore continued (History of the Rose )

08 May

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

Greek god of Silence.

Pink Rose

Pink for simplicity or Happy Love.

White Rose

White means Purity and Innocence.

Yellow Rose

Yellow for Perfect Achievement.

Red Rose

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 Hnery V11 Portrait Bust        Elizabeth of Yoek


King Henry V11 of Lancaster and Elizabeth of York.



Posted by on May 8, 2016 in Uncategorized


15 responses to “Legend and Lore continued (History of the Rose )

  1. ztevetevans

    May 8, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    My favorite flower! Great post and fascinating lore!


  2. Ancientfoods

    May 8, 2016 at 9:17 pm

    Nicely done article. Like so many others, Roses are a favorite of mine.


    • ritaroberts

      May 9, 2016 at 8:15 am

      There was a colour I always liked called “Blue Moon” but you don’t see it very often. Thanks for nice comment Joanna.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. nutsfortreasure

    May 8, 2016 at 10:34 pm

    Beautiful xo Happy Mother’s Day. Hope you are all well HUGS from NH


    • ritaroberts

      May 9, 2016 at 8:17 am

      Pleased you enjoyed reading about the Rose Eunice. Happy Mothers day to you too !!

      Liked by 1 person

      • nutsfortreasure

        May 9, 2016 at 9:53 pm

        🙂 Hope you are doing well


  4. Linnea Tanner

    May 24, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Apollo's Raven and commented:
    Reblog of Legend and Lore continued (History of the Rose ) Posted on One of my Favorite Sites RitaRoberts’ Blog on 08 MAY

    The rose, my favorite flower and part of my garden, has been cultivated for well over 3,000 years. The rose has been known from time immemorial as the queen of the flowers, is thought to have originated in Asia Minor. The rose has inspired mythology and Ancient History.

    Please Enjoy!


  5. Linnea Tanner

    May 24, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Thank you, Rita, for the sharing the wonderful post about roses. The rose is a flower close to my heart and I have several in my garden. I agree that nothing can surpass the rose in its beauty and continual blooms throughout the season. I can see why it inspired mythology and ancient history.



    • ritaroberts

      May 25, 2016 at 9:13 am

      Many thanks for the Re-blog Linnea. I think the Rose is everyone’s favourite. not only for its beauty but also for its fragrance. My favourite rose for its fragrance is called “Blue Moon” its a rare one and you don’t come across it often in the Garden Centres. It’s not actually blue but borders between a blue and lilac colour. Do you know this one Linnea ?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Linnea Tanner

        May 26, 2016 at 4:17 pm

        Hi Rita,

        I’ve heard of “Blue Girl,” but have never seen “Blue Moon” in the nurseries here. My favorite fragrant rose is “Double Delight” which is a red-fringed white rose. Not only is it very fragrant rose, it is very hardy in Colorado weather–a challenge because of the wide temperature fluctuations. Of course, there is not a rose I don’t like and will always find room for one more. It will be another 2-3 weeks before my roses begin blooming. I can hardly wait.



  6. ritaroberts

    May 26, 2016 at 6:09 pm

    Yes I have seen that red- fringed white rose Linnea its gorgeous. Sad to say roses do not do very well here in Crete. They get scorched in the heat, as do the leaves on trees no matter how much you irrigate them. I have tried shading the roses but still they get burnt. Do you live in Colorado then ? I wasn’t aware of that.


  7. squirrelbasket

    June 5, 2016 at 9:07 am

    Interesting! Especially the way different cultures share similar myths – like the one about the red rose being stained by blood.
    When you think about it, the Tudor rose was such a clever piece of design.
    Best wishes 🙂


    • ritaroberts

      June 10, 2016 at 6:27 pm

      I agree Pat the Tudor Rose was a very clever design. Thanks for reading.


  8. cav12

    July 21, 2016 at 7:53 am

    Reblogged this on Eternal Atlantis and commented:
    I thought this was such a lovely and fascinating post about the origins of roses and wanted to share it with you.



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