“The great poetic nation, Greece, gave a human interest to these fair children of the earth, and linked a legend of man’s love, or woe, or triumph, to every blossom. It is also said that the Greeks understood the art of sending intelligence by a bouquet; and it is evident, from the old dream-book of Artemidorus, that every flower of which their garlands were composed had a particular signification.” – From The Language and Sentiment of Flowers, Edited/Compiled by L.V. circa 1875
As I mentioned in Doxxing Olympus Part 2, it’s not unheard of for me to turn mortals into flowers, with the blooms retaining said mortal’s name (e.g. Hyacinth, Anemone, Narcissus, aka Daffodil) – reflecting the character traits associated with their personhood.
During our Grecian contests, winners were bestowed leafy crowns of bay laurel and olive – symbols of victory, glory and eternity.
In Rome, governmental and military leaders often wore crowns of myrtle, oak and laurel to symbolize their power. An exalted and rare wreath, the corona obsidionalis (Grass Crown) was bestowed upon a general who broke a siege or saved an entire army, and was weaved with grass or oak by the grateful soldiers.
Fast-forward to the 19th century, when Europeans during the Victorian age became obsessed with floriography – the practice of sending messages via single flowers and bouquets.
Repressed as they were – and perhaps, fascinated by surreptitious intrigue – the Victorians would send messages to friends, paramours, family members and even enemies using precisely picked blooms. Indeed, the very direction of a placed flower might say something within a tussie mussie, nosegay or bouquet!
In your modern fiction, set at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the first words Professor Severus Snape says to Harry Potter is “Potter! What would I get if I added powdered root of asphodel to an infusion of wormwood?” Snape, being quite repressed himself, may have been trying to communicate deep feelings to the young student.
There are several sources for flower sentiments and symbolism, but if we dig a little (as I did with several of my books here at Bloomin’ Good), Snape may have been saying this:
Asphodel, one of the immortal blooms flowering in my beloved Elysian Fields, is from the Lily family. If you’ve read the books by J.K. Rowling (or have seen the movies), you know that Harry’s mother’s name is Lily – and she was loved by Snape. In floriography, Asphodel means “languor and regret” or “my regrets follow you to the grave”.
Wormwood (artemisia absinthium) is the plant from which absinthe is made, and means “separation and torment of love”, “bitterness and heartache” or “absence”.
Put Asphodel and Wormwood together, and Snape may have very well been saying to Harry: “My heart aches at the absence of Lily”, “I’m tormented that the grave keeps me apart from Lily”, “I bitterly regret that I’m forever separated from Lily through death” or – quite simply – “I’m sorry for your loss”.
As you can see, unlike Botany, Floriography is all Art and no Science…
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