“If Jove would give the leafy bowers
A queen for all their world of flowers,
The rose would be the choice of Jove,
And blush the queen of every grove.”
(Sappho of Lesbos, circa 600 B.C.E.)

No other flower has generated such poetry, prose or praise as the “queen of flowers,” the rose. One legend tells how the rose was the work of Aphrodite, Dionysus, Zephyrus and Apollo. We have Cupid to thank for the thorns. Like Cupid, the rose and its thorns symbolize the virtues and dangers of love.
“If Jove would give the leafy bowers
A queen for all their world of flowers,
The rose would be the choice of Jove,
And blush the queen of every grove.”
(Sappho of Lesbos, circa 600 B.C.E.)

No other flower has generated such poetry, prose or praise as the “queen of flowers,” the rose. One legend tells how the rose was the work of Aphrodite, Dionysus, Zephyrus and Apollo. We have Cupid to thank for the thorns. Like Cupid, the rose and its thorns symbolize the virtues and dangers of love.

© 2004, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

The Lover Gathering the Rose

Frontispiece for Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, The Romance of the Rose (London: Dent, 1927).

Photo Credit: Provincial Museum of Alberta

© Provincial Museum of Alberta.


Valentine Postcard with Vase of Roses

Roses are the most popular Valentine flowers today, yet their symbolism of love and beauty goes back to ancient times. The ancient Persians saw the rose as a symbol of life. White roses symbolize purity and innocence, while red roses convey a message of love and desire.

Photo Credit: Fanshawe Pioneer Village
1910
14 x 8.8 cm
x2002.91.22.
© Fanshawe Pioneer Village.


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Explain how symbolism is used to represent romantic emotions in Valentine’s greetings
  • Describe the types of symbols traditionally used to represent feelings of love and affection

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