Legend of the Violet

Violet – Viola odorata

Sacred to: To the god Ares and to Io, possibly Apollo

Myth: The violet, which grows low to the ground and has small purple or white flowers, appeared in an ancient Near Eastern myth that probably inspired the Greek and Roman myth of Venus and Adonis. According to this story, the great mother goddess Cybele loved Attis, who was killed while hunting a wild boar. Where his blood fell on the ground, violets grew.

Myth 2: A lovely myth tells us that violets first sprang where Orpheus laid his enchanted lute.

Myth 3: Birth of Iamos. Iamos was a son of Apollon and the nymph Euadne. He was abandoned by his mother at birth. She left him lying in the Arkadian wilds on a bed of violets where he was fed honey by serpents. Eventually he was discovered by passing shepherds who named him Iamos after the violet (ion) bed. (Source: Pindar)
Myth 4: Bouquet of Persephone The goddess Persephone and her companion Nymphs were gathering rose, crocus, violet, iris, lily and larkspur blooms in a springtime meadow when she was abducted by the god Haides. (Source: Homeric Hymns)

Myth 5: In modern times, a story has grown up around Napoleon Bonaparte and the violet. While in exile on the island of Elba, he supposedly confided to his friends that he would return to France with the appearance of the violets in the spring. (Such flowers may have had a special significance for the deposed Emperor, since he had once used them as an amorous emblem of his love for Josephine.) His partisans rallied around the symbol of his triumphant return and secretly referred to him as Corporal violet. To determine a loyal supporter, the question was asked of a stranger: –Do you like violets? If the reply to the query was Yes (Oui) or No (Non), it revealed one who did not know of the plot. If the answer was –‘Eh bien’–, the loyalty of the person to the case was affirmed.

Myth 6: The Greek word for violet is io. Io is a character in Greek mythology and the daughter of King Argos, whom Zeus loved. However, Zeus was concerned that Hera would discover their affair, so he turned Io into a cow and then created the sweet-scented flowers that we now know as violets for her to eat.

Myth 7: Venus had been arguing with her son Cupid, as to which was more beautiful… herself or a nearby group of girls, and Cupid, with no fear of his mother, declared for the girls. This sent Venus into such a rage that she beat her rivals till they turned blue and became violets.

Other Notes: Later, in Christian symbolism, the violet stood for the virtue of humility, or humble modesty, and several legends tell of violets springing up on the graves of virgins and saints. European folktales associate violets with death and mourning

In the language of flowers, it has had various symbolic meanings. Its color may indicate the love of truth or, conversely, the truth of love. In keeping with the latter, it is said that unknown persons who had secretly admired or loved him decorated the tomb of the Roman tyrant Nero in the spring with violets.

Legend of the Violet

(Iroquois)

Many Moons before the white man came to the land of the Red Indian, there lived a young warrior who was the pride of his tribe; for dangerous deeds had he accomplished for the good of his people. He had slain the Great Heron that destroyed their children, and he had brought back from the Mountain of the Witches the healing roots that cured the plague.

Once when he led a band of warriors against another tribe, he saw in the lodge of one of his enemies a maiden so gentle and lovely that he longed to have her for his wigwam. But because of the strife between the two tribes, he could not buy her with quills of the Wampum Bird.

So after he had returned victorious with his warriors to his own village, he often thought of the maiden, and how, unless he could light his wigwam with the brightness of her eyes, he would no longer lead out his young men to battle.

At last he went forth alone, and hid in the woods near the village of his enemies. There he watched patiently for the maiden whose eyes had softened his heart.

He sang her praises so often that the little birds took up his song and carried it in their flight, over valley and meadow. The Bear, the Fox, and the Beaver heard him murmur her name in his sleep, and thought that a bright new flower had been born in the woodland.

With the calls of the song-birds, he wooed the maiden from her lodge, and lifting her, bore her away toward the hunting-grounds of his people.

But, alas! a suitor of the maiden saw her carried swiftly off upon the shoulder of the dreaded warrior. He dared not follow, but fled to the village and gave the alarm. The braves left him—a coward—in the hands of the women, and hastened in pursuit of the maiden and her lover.

They followed them over mountains and plains all through the dark night. And as the morning dawned, they found them in the forest. And when the braves saw the maiden, they were filled with anger, for she had plaited her hair about the neck of the young man, to show that she was a willing captive and had given him her heart.

Then her people, enraged at their foe for his daring, and at the maiden because she had deserted her tribe, killed them both, and left their bodies lying where they fell.

And from this spot in the forest sprang up the first Blue Violets. And the winds and the birds carried the seeds of the flowers and scattered them over all the Earth. So they did, that in the Springtime youths and maidens might pluck the little blue flower that breathes of constant love.

Common Blue Violets

Common Blue Violets

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