Activities 1. Pick a flower from below and draw the god or goddess it is named for in an action pose.
2. Invent a new flower and a story about how it got its name. Draw the flower and write the story.
Peony-Peony It is believed that Peony is named after Paeon (also known as Paean), a healing deity, who had healed Hades’ and Ares’ wounds. The related flower myth says that Paeon was a student of Asclepius, the god of medicine and healing. He was once instructed by Leto (Apollo's mother and goddess of fertility) to obtain a magical root growing on Mount Olympus that would soothe the pain of women in childbirth. Asclepius became jealous and threatened to kill his pupil. Zeus saved Paeon from the wrath of Asclepius by turning him into the peony flower. Peony seeds were used by pregnant women in ancient times.
Hellebore-Christmas Rose In Greek mythology, Melampus, the great seer, used this plant as an herb to cure the madness of King Proetus' daughters and other Greek women, who lost their minds and roamed wildly through the mountains and the desert of Tiryns, thinking they were cows. As a result, Melampus and his brother, Bias, gained a fortune (two- thirds of King Proetus' kingdom), and they married the princesses they had cured.
The name of the anemone plant is connected with the ancient myth, telling the famous love story between Adonis and Aphrodite. This specific myth inspired great poets like Ovidius or, much later, Shakespeare, to compose hymns dedicated to love, but we will only quote the part related to the flower. According to this myth, when Adonis lived with Aphrodite, the two lovers would go hunting in the woods. As Adonis chased game through the forest, the goddess would follow closely behind, in her swan-driven chariot, dressed as a huntress. Aphrodite's ex-lover, the god of war Ares, grew jealous of her affair with the mortal. While his rival was hunting alone, Ares disguised himself as a boar and attacked Adonis. Adonis used his spear to strike back at Ares, but he was soon gored to death by the boar's great tusks. Aphrodite hurried to Adonis in her chariot, but his soul had already descended into the Underworld. In despair, she sprinkled nectar on Adonis’ wounds. As Aphrodite bore her lover's body out of the woods, crimson anemones sprung up where each drop of blood and nectar fell onto the earth. It is said that that the wind which blows the blossoms open will soon afterwards blow the petals away; so it is called the Anemone, or Wind Flower, for that which brings forth its life, ends it.
Iris-Iris The flower got its name from the Greek goddess Iris, goddess of the rainbow. Iris was also known to be the messenger of Zeus and Hera. Iris would take messages from "the eye of Heaven" to earth, travelling on the arc of the rainbow. The word iris means "eye of heaven". It was the name given to the goddess, this flower, and the center of your eye. This means that each of us carries a piece of heaven with us.
Narcissus was an exceptionally handsome young man. His mother had told him that he would live a long life if he did not look upon his own beauty. Narcissus decided, however, to see his reflection on the surface of the water coming from a spring. He was so enchanted by his own beauty that he remained there, still, admiring his image until he died by the side of the spring. According to another version, he mistakenly thought that his own reflection was the face of the nymph that inhabited the sand and he drowned when he jumped into the water trying to catch her. The narcissus flower supposedly grew at that spot.
Crocus was a friend of the Greek god Hermes. One day as the two friends were playing, Hermes accidentally hit and killed his friend. A small flower grew at the place of the accident. Three drops of Crocus’ blood fell on the center of the flower and formed the spots on this plant. The plant took the name ‘Crocus’ because of this event.
According to another myth, Crocus was a young man who was transformed into a flower because of his unfulfilled love for a nymph called Smilax. At the same time, Smilax transformed into a vine-plant (Smilax aspera-Sarsparilla).
Daphne –Laurel Tree
Daphne was a young, beautiful nymph, daughter of the river god Peneus. She was a huntress who dedicated herself to Artemis, goddess of the hunt, and, like the goddess, refused to marry. She was pursued by many admirers, but she rejected every lover, including the powerful son of Zeus, Apollo. Apollo fell in love with Daphne, and when she rejected his advances, he pursued her through the woods. Daphne got frightened and prayed to her father for help. Whereupon, her father told her that he would protect her by turning her into a laurel tree on the bank of his river. When Apollo came looking for Daphne, her father told him that she was transformed into a Laurel tree. Apollo then cut off some branches and made himself a wreath in memory of her beauty and his love for her. Apollo made the laurel his sacred tree. He appropriated the laurel wreath, since then called Daphne in Greek, for champions and those who strived for excellence in their chosen fields, e., in the ancient Olympic Games all the champions were crowned with a Daphne.
Many legends exist about the rose. In a Greek myth, the rose was created by the goddess of flowers, Chloris. One day, she found the lifeless body of a nymph in the woods and she turned her into a flower. She called upon Aphrodite, goddess of love, and Dionysus, the god of wine. Aphrodite gave the flower beauty as her gift and Dionysus added nectar to give it sweet fragrance. Zephyrus, god of the west wind, blew the clouds away so Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom. That is how the rose was created and rightfully crowned "Queen of Flowers."
It is said that this kind of flower began to grow from the tears of Asterea, the Greek goddess of the starry sky (also known as Virgo in Roman mythology), who cried because she saw no stars when she looked down upon the earth.
Agave-Mexican Agava, Century Plant
The Greek word "agave" means admirable or highborn (in origin). This plant came to Greece from Mexico. However, its name is Greek and it was probably used because the Greek Agave was one of the "lesser" gods of the Moon; that means that she was one of the faces of the ancient Mother Earth of the Mediterranean. Agave was the daughter of Kadmus, King of Thebes, and sister of Semele, who was Dionysus’ mother. When Semele was thunder-stricken by Zeus, Agave spread the rumor that Zeus killed her sister because she spoke badly of him. Later on, Dionysus avenged his mother’s death and punished Agave very severely. When Dionysus returned to Thebes, where Pentheus, son of Agave, was the king, he ordered all the women of the town to go to Mount Cithaeron and perform rituals in his honor. Pentheus, who did not approve the introduction of such worship, tried to spy on the women. His mother noticed his shadow, but thinking he was a wild animal, she dismembered and devoured him.
Althea was the wife of Oineus, King of Kalydona, and the mother of Deianeira and Meleager. When her son turned seven days old, the goddesses of Destiny (the three Moirae) visited her and told her that her baby would die if the torch that was lit in the house was burned down to the end. Immediately, Althea put out the torch and hid it in a chest. Meleager grew up and became a famous hero, but during the quest for the Kalydon boar, Meleager accidentally killed his uncles, Althea’s brothers. Althea went berserk and threw the torch into the fire. Meleager died immediately. Then Althea realized what had happened.
Fir- Greek Fir
In modern times it is known as the most suitable Christmas tree. But what do Greek myths narrate? Ancient Greeks called the fir tree, "Pitys," and together with the pine tree, they were the god Pan’s sacred trees. Pan was once in love with a nymph called Pity. The god of the north wind was also attracted to Pity, but the nymph chose Pan over him. The god of the north wind, insulted her and blew her into a gorge. Pan found her lifeless body laying in the gorge and turned her into his sacred tree, the fir tree. Ever since, every time the north wind blows, the nymph cries. Her tears are the pitch droplets that leak out of the fir cones in autumn.
According to tradition, Cyparissos was a handsome young man from the island of Kea, the son of Telefus and grandson of Hercules. He was a protégé of both Apollo and Zephyrus (god of the wind.) His beloved company was a holy deer. However, on some summer day while the deer was lying in the sun, Cyparissos mistakenly killed it with his spear. The young man, in despair, wished that he was dead as well. He asked the heavens for a favor that his tears would roll down eternally. The gods turned him into a cypress tree, the tree of sorrow. Since then, the cypress tree has been considered a mourning tree and has been planted in cemeteries.
It is said that this flower was named after the wise centaur, Chiron, mentor of Asclepius, Achilles, Jason, and Apollo. During the Titan war, Hiron took Hercules’ side in his battle against the centaurs. But Hercules, by mistake, wounded Hiron’s foot with an arrow full of Hydra poison. Chiron used the "Centaurea" plant in order to heal his wound.
In Greek mythology, Orchis was the son of a nymph and a satyr. During a celebratory feast for Bacchus, Orchis committed the sacrilege of attempting to rape a priestess, resulting in his being torn apart by wild beasts, then metamorphosing into a slender and modest plant. Theophrastus was the first of the Western authors to mention orchids. It was he who first applied the name Orchis scientifically, echoing the myth of Orchis and reflecting the resemblance of the double root tubers to male genitalia that got old Orchis in trouble in the first place. Greek women thought they could control the sex of their unborn children with Orchid roots. If the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female.
Greek mythology tells of the beautiful princess Phyllis, who was the daughter of a Thracian king. She fell in love with Theseus' son, Demophon. The young man ended up in Thrace while sailing home from Troy and the king gave him part of his kingdom and agreed to let him marry his daughter, Phyllis. After some time, Demophon missed Athens so much that he asked to go home for a while. Phyllis agreed after he had promised he would be back soon, and off he sailed. Phyllis was left waiting at the altar on her wedding day. Phyllis waited for years for Demophon to return, but finally died of a broken heart. In sympathy, the gods transformed Phyllis into an almond tree, which became a symbol of hope. When the errant, remorseful Demonphon returned to find Phyllis as a leafless, flowerless tree, he embraced the tree. The tree suddenly burst into bloom, a demonstration of love not conquered by death.
Achillea-Yarrow Achilles, the hero of Homer's The Iliad, who was said to have given this plant to his soldiers to help stop the bleeding from their wounds during the Trojan War. Modern tests on this plant have shown that it does indeed contain chemicals that help blood to clot. It is also called "devil's plaything" because people in the past believed that placing yarrow under their pillow would make them dream of matters of love.