A queen for all their world of flowers,
The rose would be the choice of Jove,
And blush the queen of every grove.
Sweetest child of weeping morning,
Gem, the breast of earth adorning,
Eye of flow'rets, glow of lawns,
Bud of beauty, nursed by dawns:
Soft the soul of love it breathes,
Cypria's brow with magic wreathes;
And to Zephyr's wild caressed,
Diffuses all its verdant tresses,
Till glowing with the wanton's play,
It blushes a diviner ray.
Sappho of Lebos, c. 600 B>C.
The Rose is one of the oldest flowers known to man and still one of the most popular. Beauty, durability and fragrance have made the rose a symbol of love. No other flower has been so admired or has inspired so many poems as the queen of the flowers.
Nebuchadnezzar used to adorn his palace. In Persia, where roses were grown for their perfume, rose petals were used to fill the Sultan's mattress. Roses later became synonymous with the worst excesses of the Roman empire---the peasants were reduced to growing roses instead of food crops in order to satisfy the demands of their rulers. The emperors filled their swimming baths and fountains with rose-water and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies.
The Rose is the flower of love. Chloris, the Geek goddess of flowers, created the rose out of the lifeless body of nymph whicc she found one day in the a clearing in the woods. Chloris asked for help: Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty; Dionyous, the god of wine, added nectar to her a sweet scent; the three Graces gave her charm, brightness and joy; Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so Apollo, the sun god could shine and make the rose bloom. So th eRose was born and was immediately crowned Queen of the Flowers.
Queen Elizabeth I, known as the Virgin Queen, took the Tudor Rose as her emblem and chose "Rosa sine spina" as her motto. Elizabeth was known as the rose without a thorn and many of the Elizabethan poets wrote of her.
By tht sweet ornament which truth doth give!
The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem
For that sweet odour which doth in it live.
The candor-blooms have full as deep a dye,
As the perfumed tincture of the roses,
Hang on such thorns, and play as wantonly
When summer's breath their masked buds discloses:
But for their virtue only is their show,
They lived unwoo'd, and unrespected fade,
Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so;
Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made.
And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
When that shall fade, my verse distills your turth.
Sonnet LIV, William Shakespeare, 1564-1816
The rose, the national emblem of England, was known in ancient India; Confucius mentions a rose garden in Beijing; and Columbus found it in the New World.