Even though Roman mythology represented a combination of Greek and Etruscan mythology, it still had some unique features that separate this mythology from the ones that were used as her basis.
Roman mythology brought us some of the most interesting stories and myths about ancient gods and goddesses. Their symbolic meaning is still valuable even today, and they are often used as referral in art and literature.
The highest deity in ancient Rome was Jupiter, and all other deities were lower in significance than him. Even though he was the highest deity, other gods and goddesses were equally and sometimes even more worshipped than him. Ancient mythology was based on stories that were created by the human imagination. Everything that humans couldn’t explain with reason, they created stories that later became myths and legends.
Every natural event that couldn’t be explained became the work of gods and goddesses that ruled Rome at that time. The divine intervention was the easiest way to explain everything that happened at that time, and just like today, people believed in gods and respected them.
In today’s text we will be talking more about the Roman goddess Flora, who was the goddess of spring and flowers. So, if you ever wanted to know more about this Roman deity, here is the perfect opportunity to do just that.
Mythology and Symbolism
Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and springtime. Besides that, Flora was also the goddess of fertility and vegetation. Many considered her to be an important deity in Roman mythology, even though she never took a high position among Roman deities. Flora was also one of the oldest deities in Roan mythology. The story and myth about Flora comes from ancient stories that pre-date the times of the Roman Empire.
Flora was one of fifteen deities who had its own priest under the name of Flamen Floralis. The priest was chaired by Numa Pompilius and when we take all things into consideration, Flora was still one of the minor Roman deities.
There aren’t many stories linked to Flora and her role mostly evolved around helping the Roman citizens. Romans showed big amounts of appreciation to Flora and as a goddess of fertility and renewal, many victims were given to her to please her. She had the ability to make crops grow bigger and stronger, but people could also experience her wrath in case they disobeyed. Victims for Flora were usually brought to the cave of Arvalian brothers or the Fratres Arvales. Cult that worships Flora is also one of the oldest ones dedicated to a Roman deity.
Flora was the goddess of blossoming, spring and renewal. Because of her ability to renew things that were old, she became the goddess of fertility as well, because childbirth represented the renewal of life. Her twin sister was Fauna. It is probably more familiar to you now that we have mentioned Fauna, because this term is often used today. Fauna was the goddess of animals and together they represented nature in general, the animal and the plant world.
Greek counterpart to Flora was Chloris. Also the name Flora was derived from the term that was used to mark certain vegetation in a certain region or part of the planet. Flora wasn’t as important as some other Roman deities, but her importance wasn’t insignificant. People praised Flora and brought her victims regularly, mainly because she was the goddess of fertility and flowers, and crops in that period represented survival and continuing of life.
Without crops and vegetation, people would die and all of their efforts would be insignificant. Her biggest opponent was the Roman deity Robigus. He was the god of destruction and his main ability was the ability to kill crops and make them whiter. There are some mentioning’s of fight between Flora and Robigus and their relationship represented the eternal fight between good and evil.
Temples devoted to Flora can be found across Rome. In Sibylline books, which represent oracles written by Sybil of Cumae, it was strongly advised to the emperors to build a temple in the honor of Flora and even seven more temples across Rome. This was supposedly going to bring good luck to romans and make their crops grow bigger and stronger.
Titius Tatius, Roman Emperor at that time, built a shrine and a temple in the honor of Flora. The building of the temple brought a lot of success to the crops and farmers of that time. In the honor of Flora, a festival was held each year. People brought many gifts to please the goddess during the course of the festival that usually lasted for six days. During that time, many different games and theatrical performances were held that celebrated the goddess. Every day was special and unique and people strictly followed the tradition behind this festival.
Meaning and Facts
Flora was the Roman goddess of blossoming, spring and fertility. When it comes to ranking, Flora belonged to the class of less important deities or minor deities. Even though she wasn’t considered to be a highly important deity, she was highly respected and loved by people of Rome. Her role was to protect people and to protect the most important thing they had in that time and that was food. Flora announced the beginning of warmer weather and period when people should prepare for the springtime work.
The name Flora comes from the Latin word “flos” which means flower. Flora was one of the oldest Roman deities and she was usually painted in art and literature as a young maiden with flowers in her hair. Her representation in paintings was more similar to a nymph than to a human being, because she wasn’t the descendant of humans. In many cases it was easy to conclude that this Roman deity was not linked to humans. She was more a myth or a legend and her existence was rarely proven by her appearance in flesh. Unlike other gods, who have human roots in some ways, Flora was more a deity that was out of reach for humans but was always present in their lives.
In the honor of Flora, a festival was held each year that was called Floralia. The festival lasted six days from April 27th to May 3. During the course of the festival, many events took place and people were dressed especially for this occasion. People would usually wear colorful clothes and flowers in their hair, to please the goddess and also to make these days more memorable. Ancient mythology was based on stories that were created by the human imagination. Everything that humans couldn’t explain with reason, they created stories that later became myths and legends.
On the first day, people would bring wheat as an offering to the goddess, but on the rest of the days people would bring milk and honey as well. At one point the entire festival was stopped because of the reckless behavior of people during this period. Celebration of Flora was known for a very loose behavior of people and also a lot of songs and dance that didn’t always end up well. On the sixth day of the festival, special games were held that were called Ludi Florales. Festival was also celebrated with the tradition of killing small animals, which shows the link between Flora and her sister Fauna.
The meaning behind this six day festival wasn’t only to please the goddess, this was also the time when people finally behaved freely and did whatever they wanted. Celebrating Flora represented celebrating life in general and all the beauty in it. Offerings to the goddess were symbolical, but they were also a chance to celebrate hard work and dedication people put into making all of that happen.
Bright colors and flowers everywhere were an especially beautiful scene, and this is why the goddess Flora is one of the most beloved Roman deities. Her ability to bring renewal and offer people a new chance to do something was a wish everyone would want to see come to life.
Flora’s Greek equivalent was Chloris. She was a nymph. Flora was married to Favonius who is also known as the god of the wind Zephyr. A loyal companion to Flora was Hercules. Flora as a Roman goddess reached her development especially in the Renaissance period when many painters and artists found inspiration in Flora as the goddess of flowers and spring. Her popularity was even bigger in the period of Renaissance than it was during the period of ancient Rome, which is why she is still referred to as a minor goddess even though her significance was big.
In popular culture, we can definitely see some relics of this deity. Flora was the goddess of spring and fertility and even though she wasn’t as big of a deity as others she definitely preserved her role over centuries. Flora and Fauna are words that are commonly used today. These two words represent the animal and plant kingdom, and are rarely used separately. Besides that, Flora as a goddess was inspiration for many artists and their works.
Ballet devoted to Flora was called The Awakening of Flora. There are also Henry Parcel’s Nymphs and Shepherds, where one of the characters was goddess Flora. Statues devoted to this Roman goddess can be found across Rome but also in the rest of Europe. There are the ones in Capitoline Museums and also one in Szczecin in Poland.
The highest deity in ancient Rome was Jupiter, and all other deities were lower in significance than him. Even though he was the highest deity, other gods and goddesses were equally and sometimes even more worshipped than him. People praised Flora and brought her victims regularly, mainly because she was the goddess of fertility and flowers, and crops in that period represented survival and continuing of life.
Flora was the goddess of blossoming, spring and renewal. Because of her ability to renew things that were old, she became the goddess of fertility as well, because childbirth represented the renewal of life. Her twin sister was Fauna. There aren’t many stories linked to Flora and her role mostly evolved around helping the Roman citizens. Romans showed big amounts of appreciation to Flora and as a goddess of fertility and renewal; many victims were given to her to please her.
Festival in the honor of flora is still held today by some cultures, and her meaning to today’s culture and art is extraordinary. It is amazing to see how such a minor deity can have such a strong meaning to the people and how it can withstand the test of time. Flora was the goddess of spring and flowers, but other attributes were given to her as time passed on. She will forever remain to be the goddess of celebrating life and enjoying the hard work you have put into making something happen.