20 Ancient Greek Flower Myths

20 Ancient Greek Flower Myths


From birth to death, from innocence to passion, flowers have numerous interpretations and implications in myths and legends of ancient Greece.

Flowers often symbolize youth, beauty, and pleasure but they may also personify fragility and the sudden transition from life to death, several flowers, such as the anemone, crocus and hyacinth, take their names from Greek myths.

Metamorphosis is a typical theme in Greek mythology, gods as well as mortals, had the power to transform themselves into animals, birds, or humans and repeatedly used this power to trick and manipulate.

In ancient Greece, a flower festival, dedicated to Dionysus, the god of pleasure , was held in early spring, in the month of Anthesterion, the eighth month of the ancient Athenian Attic calendar, which falls from mid February to mid March, maybe our modern May Day celebrations  are a throwback to the ancient Anthesterion.

Chloris, Greek Goddess of Flowers (The Roman goddess Flora)

In Greek mythology, the name Chloris means “greenish-yellow”, “pale green”, “pale”, “pallid”, or “fresh”, and she  was a nymph or goddess, connected to spring, flowers and new growth.

Chloris, was abducted by Zephyrus, the god of the west, who turned her into a goddess, once they were married, together, they had a son, Karpos, it’s thought her home was the  Elysian Fields.

Chloris was also thought to have been answerable for the metamorphosis of Adonis, Attis, Crocus, Hyacinthus and Narcissus into flowers

 Below are twenty flowers, whose names derive from, or are associated with, twenty, magical, sweet-smelling, Greek myths.

1. Aconite

Aconite can grow up to a metre tall and bears purple or blue flowers; it tends to grow on rocky ground rather than in earth and is extremely poisonous and that is exactly what the ancient Greeks used it for, poison!

In Greek mythology, the goddess or witch, Hecate, is said to have invented the poison, aconite, which Athena used to transform Arachne, a mortal, into a spider.

Arachne, a shepherd’s daughter, challenged Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, to a weaving contest, once Athena saw Arachne’s talent was much greater than her own; she became consumed with rage and jealousy and beat Arachne around the head.

Ashamed, Arachne hanged herself, on seeing this, Athena, declared, ‘Live on then and yet hang, condemned one, but, lest you are careless in the future, this same condition is declared, in punishment, against your descendants, to the last generation!’ and sprinkled her with Hecate’s poison.

Instantly, as soon the poison touched Arachne, her hair fell out, her nose and ears dropped off, her head shrank, and her whole body became tiny.

Her fingers stuck to her sides as legs, the rest of her was one round belly, from which she still spins a thread.

2. Anemone

Greek ἀνεμώνη (anemōnē) means ‘daughter of the wind’, from ἄνεμος (ánemos ‘wind).

Greek mythology links the anemone, sometimes called the windflower, to the death of Adonis, a handsome youth, who was loved by two women, Persephone, queen of the Underworld  and Aphrodite (Venus), goddess of love.

 One day whilst out hunting alone, Adonis was wounded by a wild boar.

 Aphrodite, upon hearing the cries of her lover, ran to his side, only to witness Adonis bleeding to death.

Red anemones sprang from the earth where the drops of Adonis’s blood fell, (In another version of the story, the anemones were white before the death of Adonis, whose blood turned them to red).

 Said to bring luck and protect against evil, legend has it that when the anemone closes its petals, it’s a signal that rain is approaching.


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