Monday, April 18, 2011
Have you noticed a bit of a horticultural spring theme happening over here at Savoir Faire? With spring upon us, soon our gardens and balconies will be masses of colour, with the first flowers of spring. Invariably these first flowers are the huge varieties of spring bulbs appearing from the crocus to the tulip. I cannot help but be inspired by spring bulbs as they are amongst my favourites. Not only do I love hyacinths for their appearance, so many bell like little flowers on their stems, but also the wonderful scent, which is a favourite of mine. (Think Dior’s Diorissimo here) I have known for a long time that a lot of the meanings and names associated with these bulbs have originated from Greek mythology. Invariably all these legends stem around the involvement of us mere mortals with the ancient gods of Greece. I also find it interesting that of all the mortals that have metamorphosed into flowers most have been men. Ancient Greece was a very male dominated society with a huge amount of emphasis placed on male beauty, so it is obvious that gods and mortal men had a fascination for each other, albeit a very homoerotic one. The legend of Hyacinth and Apollo is another myth that attempts to explain the origins of this wonderful flower we know as the hyacinth. Hyacinth was a divine hero from Greek Mythology whose major claim to fame was being a beautiful boy and lover of the god Apollo, though he was also admired by the wind god Zephyrus. Apollo and Hyacinth took turns throwing the discus. Hyacinth ran to catch it to impress Apollo, was struck by the discus as it fell to the ground, and died. A twist in the tale makes the wind god Zephyrus responsible for the death of Hyacinth. His beauty caused a feud between Zephyrus and Apollo. Jealous that Hyacinth preferred the radiant god Apollo, Zephyrus blew Apollo's discus off course, so as to injure and kill Hyacinth. When he died, Apollo didn't allow Hades to claim the boy; rather, he made a flower, the hyacinth, from his spilled blood. Ovid's account, in Metamorphoses is hauntingly beautiful, describing Apollo’s grief. O thou art gone, my boy, Apollo cry'd, Defrauded of thy youth in all its pride! Thou, once my joy, art all my sorrow now; And to my guilty hand my grief I owe. Yet from my self I might the fault remove, Unless to sport, and play, a fault should prove, Unless it too were call'd a fault to love. Oh cou'd I for thee, or but with thee, dye! But cruel Fates to me that pow'r deny. Yet on my tongue thou shalt for ever dwell; Thy name my lyre shall sound, my verse shall tell; And to a flow'r transform'd, unheard-of yet, Stamp'd on thy leaves my cries thou shalt repeat. The time shall come, prophetick I foreknow, When, joyn'd to thee, a mighty chief shall grow, And with my plaints his name thy leaf shall show. As illustrated the legend has inspired the likes of many an artist, including lending itself to an Opera by Mozart called Apollo and Hyacinth. The time that all these spring bulbs are with us seems so short, much like the young men who inspired their creation, so let us enjoy them while we can!