Did you know that in ancient myths, some pretty colorful flowers originated from… blood? The fantasy of ancient Greeks was impressive, that's for sure. Let's discover some of the most interesting Greek myths about the origins of our favorite flowers.
In Greek myths, rose is associated with Aphrodite, the goddess of love. This goddess is known to be born from the sea foam. According to Anacreon, a white rose appeared from that white foam, which covered Aphrodite's body. When the goddess came from the sea, the foam turned into a flower. And the rose stayed white until the moment Aphrodite was struck by the terrible news. Adonis, her lover, was killed. While she was running to Adonis, she hurt her feet to roses. And it was her blood that made these flowers red?
According to another tale, Chloris, the goddess of flowers, was the one to create roses. Once, she found the body of a lifeless nymph. She was devastated and turned her body into a rose. Aphrodite gave the flower its beauty, and Dionysus gave it a sweet fragrance?
There is another myth associated with Adonis, and more precisely with his blood. Aphrodite was lamenting over her lover's death. And her tears had mixed with Adonis' blood, and this was the moment when anemones emerged.
In another interpretation, Anemone used to be a nymph. Zephyr, one of the wind gods, fell for her which made his wife Chloris furious. She was so angry that she decided to turn once a pretty nymph into a flower. After that, Zephyr lost interest in Anemone. But another god of wind, Boreas, fell in love with her even though she was just a flower now. However, Anemone wasn't interested in him. Angry Boreas started blowing her petals, which made them fade prematurely.
Once upon a time, a happy shepherd was playing on a flute. He didn't realize that his music scared a lot of prey from the goddess Artemis. She was outraged. So as a typical ancient Greek deity, she decided to punish the mortal in the worst way possible - by killing him. Then she comprehended the horror of what she had done (at least she was self-aware). So she turned the eyes of an innocently killed man into red carnations. That's why the dot in the middle of the flower somehow reminds a pupil. In another version, she asked her Dad for forgiveness, and he was the one who created a carnation from the shepherd's body.
The myth states that violet used to be the daughter of Titan Atlas. Of course, she was very charming. Too bad Apollo was fond of her. Because the god of the sun was so intrusive, he chased the girl with hot sun rays. The unfortunate girl asked Zeus for help, and he didn't find a better solution than turning the poor girl into a flower! At least Apollo didn't bother her after that.
Later, Persephone was picking violets, but unfortunately, it was a moment when she was kidnapped. Goddess dropped all the flowers, and that's how they ended up on the Earth. This is the reason why the violet has an ambivalent interpretation. On the one hand, this flower is a symbol of death. Greeks used to decorate deathbeds of young girls with violets. But on the other hand, it was a gift from Persephone, a sign of the coming of spring and a symbol of Athens!
Some people say that this flower resembles a curious face. In one myth, curiosity was the reason why few people were turned into flowers. Aphrodite decided to bathe in a secret place, but some mortals had seen her. The goddess was raged! She asked Zeus to punish them, so he transformed them into flowers.
But why do Greek call wild pansy a flower of Zeus? Here is another version: Zeus decided to do what he loved the most – to cheat on Hera, so he fell in love with Io. Bad for lovers, Hera became aware of this affair. Zeus decided to protect his mistress in a usual god-like way. And no, he didn't turn her into a flower, but in a ... cow. Wild pansies were created for poor cow-like Io as a delicious treat. Would you appreciate such a gift??
The origin of hyacinth is told in another bloody myth. Hyacinth was a son of Clio, muse of history and Spartan king Amyclus. The boy was so beautiful that even Apollo himself fell in love with him. It's tough to be loved by a god because someone can get jealous. In this story, it was Zephyr. He also fell in love with Hyacinth but was rejected. During the game of discus, Zephyr blew the wind so hard that Hyacinth was killed by a discus. A flower grew from the boy's blood.
In another version, it was the blood of Ajax. He was one of the bravest warriors in the Trojan War. After the death of Achilles, he wanted to keep his weapon. But it was decided that Odysseus would be one who could keep it. This unfair decision made him commit suicide. And from his blood… well, you know what happened next.
The scientific name 'Paeonia came from the Thracian kingdom, also called Paeonia. There was growing one of its wild varieties. However, Pliny the Elder disagreed with this version. According to him, the flower's name was connected to Paieon, the god of healing and Asclepius’ student. Peony was the flower that grew on Olympus and helped Paieon to save even gods. And when Hades was wounded by Heracles, Paieon knew what to do. God of the Underworld was saved, and Paieon’s skills made a huge impression on him. But there was someone angry with Paieon. Asclepius became jealous of his student's success, so he decided to murder him. When Zeus found the lifeless body of Paieon, he decided to turn it into a flower, which once helped him save gods.
For Greeks, almost every flower has an epic history behind it. Most of them are pretty murderous. Of course, we haven't mentioned every flower in this article, so stay tuned to learn more in further ones.