Posted by: aediculaantinoi | May 2, 2013

V Floralia


As beautiful as the above image (and the one from yesterday) is, I can’t say I’m exactly happy about what it depicts. Ovid has more:

This is the month of the Circus’ Games, and the victors’ palm
The audience applauds: let my song accompany the Circus’ show.
Tell me, yourself, who you are. Men’s opinions err:
You’ll be the best informant regarding your own name.’
So I spoke. So the goddess responded to my question,
(While she spoke, her lips breathed out vernal roses):
‘I, called Flora now, was Chloris: the first letter in Greek
Of my name, became corrupted in the Latin language.
I was Chloris, a nymph of those happy fields,
Where, as you’ve heard, fortunate men once lived.
It would be difficult to speak of my form, with modesty,
But it brought my mother a god as son-in-law.
It was spring, I wandered: Zephyrus saw me: I left.
He followed me: I fled: he was the stronger,
And Boreas had given his brother authority for rape
By daring to steal a prize from Erechtheus’ house.
Yet he made amends for his violence, by granting me
The name of bride, and I’ve nothing to complain of in bed.
I enjoy perpetual spring: the season’s always bright,
The trees have leaves: the ground is always green.
I’ve a fruitful garden in the fields that were my dower,
Fanned by the breeze, and watered by a flowing spring.
My husband stocked it with flowers, richly,
And said: “Goddess, be mistress of the flowers.”
I often wished to tally the colours set there,
But I couldn’t, there were too many to count.
As soon as the frosted dew is shaken from the leaves,
And the varied foliage warmed by the sun’s rays,
The Hours gather dressed in colourful clothes,
And collect my gifts in slender baskets.
The Graces, straight away, draw near, and twine
Wreaths and garlands to bind their heavenly hair.
I was first to scatter fresh seeds among countless peoples,
Till then the earth had been a single colour.
I was first to create the hyacinth, from Spartan blood,
And a lament remains written on its petals.
You too, Narcissus, were known among the gardens,
Unhappy that you were not other, and yet were other.
Why tell of Crocus, or Attis, or Adonis, son of Cinyras,
From whose wounds beauty springs, through me?

There’s no minced words here: Flora was the victim of rape, and to add insult to injury, not only did the rapist get permission from others to do this, but was given his victim in marriage as his reward. The rapist in question is Zephyros, who is also the reason why Apollon’s lover Hyakinthos died. While I try not to dislike deities, I have a very hard time liking Zephyros, for this and other reasons…

However, poetry is the answer to righting such wrongs, I think. We shall see tomorrow…

I was up for several hours last night writing poetry, and had a kind of “poetry hangover” when I woke up this morning. What’s best for that? Writing more poetry! So, I actually just wrote a bit more…and the whole of it will be shared with all of you tomorrow on the final day of the games of the Floralia. I think you’ll like what I came up with!

We talked a lot about poetry, and filidecht in particular, last night on Wyrd Ways Radio with Galina Krasskova and Laura Patsouris. (Our show starts about an hour in, and runs almost eighty minutes!) You’ll see how some of what was discussed there ended up in the poem when I share that tomorrow!

I have much more to do today, and will be doing some ritual in a few hours with some of my students, which should be interesting! So, I must dash for the day…

Ave Flora Bona Dea Magna Flores!


  1. Ovid arguably has something of a rape-fixation to put it mildly. It is interesting how our conception of deities can be shaped by the personality or preoccupations of the individual classical writers who have left us surviving lines about them. Is this an Ovid-only story or are there other tellings?

    I look forward to reading your poetic response to the wrongs of Flora and others tomorrow!

    • Indeed…I do try and remind people that the “set-in-stone”-ness of many ancient myths is entirely in the hands of poets, and they gave out poetic licenses back then, too…!

      I only know of Ovid’s telling of the tale; it is presumed that he based it on some Greek original, from what I’ve gathered, but that can’t really be proven either way, I don’t think. The Greek nymph to whom Ovid links her, Chloris, only has the Fasti tale attested as a narrative; but, apparently, the Zephyros and Flora/Chloris story is itself parallel to the story of Boreas and Oreithyia, and thus the Flora and Zephyros version may have been developed on that same sort of model.

  2. […] I mentioned earlier, I went with three of my students today to do some ritual after class up at Mt. Erie. One of those […]

  3. […] that I can feebly attempt to explain or investigate, has already been said by me over the last five posts. Now, it is time to let the poetry speak for […]

  4. […] Wyrd Ways Radio podcast. In early May, during the Floralia, I made an appearance on Galina Krasskova’s Wyrd Ways Radio show, in those days of yore […]

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