5+1 ‘scented’ Greek stories about flowers
Flowers in Greek islands

Although most people prefer the sunny days instead of the cold, rainy ones, it seems that we can’t appreciate the gifts of each season, if we want to skip the natural cycle. In other words, we can’t really enjoy the summer without the winter, and the spring without the autumn or vice versa. However, in the temperate zones of the north hemisphere of Earth, the spring has already passed on the torch to the summer, the temperature increases day by day, the daylight is longer and many flowers are still blooming.

As masters of storytelling, Ancient Greeks could do nothing less than pumping their imagination into creating juicy stories and myths about the origins of flowers. Below our beloved ones:

 

Anemone (or the windflower): a silent friend

There is a Greek myth about the red anemones that involves a love & tragedy story -as we have previously discussed here, Ancient Greeks were interested in these life topics- between Adonis and Aphrodite (Venus), the goddess of beauty and love. One day Adonis was hunting in the woods alone, when a fierce boar attacked him and injured him fatally. Aphrodite heard his screams and as soon as she arrived, Adonis had passed away. It is said that trying to transfer her lover’s body with her chariot out of the woods, blood drops fell into the ground, and that was the place where the red anemones sprung from the earth.

Anemones are considered to bring luck and warn people when rain is coming by closing their petals.

*blooming period: spring

 

Hyacinth: the fatal accident

Another love story between mortals and gods is the one behind the hyacinth flower. In Greek Mythology, Hyacinth was a handsome young Spartan, lover of Apollo god. Together they used to go hunting and climbing, and exercise in the gymnasium. One day, they decided to practice throwing the discus. Apollo threw first, but accidentally, the discus hit the ground and bounced back on the Hyacinth’s head. Even though Apollo tried all his medicinal skills to keep him alive, the beautiful young man died. He buried him with his own hands, and at that moment, this fragrant purple flower bloomed for the first time.  

Hyacinth Flower
Hyacinth Flower – credits: Marcin Jucha / Shutterstock.com

*blooming period: middle spring

 

Iris: Earth and Heaven liaison

It means rainbow, as well as the eye of the heaven, and it’s connected to the Greek goddess, Iris. The myth says that Iris was travelling from Heaven to Earth on the arc of the rainbow to transfer to people the messages from Zeus and Hera. The colors of the Iris flower vary according to the rainbow’s, and that’s why even its meaning differs from region to region, depending on its color. In general though, the Iris flower symbolizes wisdom, faith and the heaven that each one of us carries into the inner self.

*blooming period: early spring to early summer

 

Narcissus: a deeper meaning

Although there are many myths about Narcissus, the most popular one talks about Echo, a mountain nymph, who had a love at first sight with Narcissus, a really handsome man from Boeotia. Narcissus was so busy admiring himself over the surface of a lake that ignored and underestimated Echo’s affection. As a result, Echo lived alone, weakening repeating Narcissus name, while Narcissus ended up realizing that the reflection of himself couldn’t offer him a reciprocal love, contrary to Echo’s love. But it was too late to reconsider. The passion burned him from inside, eventually turning him into a yellow and white flower.

Narcissus Flower
Narcissus Flower – credits: Ahmet Cigsar / Shutterstock.com

*blooming period: end of winter to middle spring

 

Poppy: the calming effect

Blooming, deep red poppies among white and yellow daisies are a typical scene of the Greek landscape during the spring.  In Ancient Greece these delicate wildflowers were associated with Hypnos, the god of sleep, and Morpheus, the god of dreams. It is said that the morphine -the substance that is contained into the poppy seeds of the Papaver somniferum species- was named after the latter, as it relieves the pain and is being used even till today by the doctors, mainly during the surgery operations.

*blooming period: spring

 

Rose: the queen of flowers

It is considered to be the flower of passion and love, and ranks highly among the most beautiful flowers all over the world, if not at the top of the list. Of course, there are many myths that could explain the origins of the rose’s attractiveness. According to a Greek one, the rose created by Chloris, the goddess of flowers. One day, as she was wandering into the woods, Chloris found the dead body of a nymph. Feeling compassion about her, she had the idea of turning her into a flower. So, she invited some other gods to help her by offering their gifts for that purpose. Aphrodite, the love and beauty goddess, gave the flower the nice color and shape, and Dionysus, the god of wine, offered nectar drops to bring a sweet fragrance to it. The god of the West Wind, Zephyros, blew the clouds away so as Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom!

Rose Flower
Rose Flower – credits: ER_09 / Shutterstock.com

*blooming period: spring, summer

 

>> Disclaimer

The blooming period of some of the flowers above might have changed over the years, due to the climate change. There are also differences between different species and regions.

 

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