Dionysus and the Rose

Dionysus and the Rose


Still life by Van Gogh

Roses by Vincent van Gogh, 1890, oil on canvas, 93 x 74 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The rose is a very ancient flower. Fossils of rose leaves, shoots, thorns and buds are found as far back as from the Tertiary period. The rose has thus flourished on Earth for more than 35 million years.

No plant exceeds the rose in beauty and scent.

Mankind has loved and used the rose since the dawn of time. As far as we know, it was first cultivated in Persia.

The rose has in additions to its esthetically qualities also been appreciated for its healing and culinary abilities. Rose oil is very soothing, and rose-water is ideal for cooking.

In ancient Persia wine was made out of roses, and the Turks made confectionery out of rose petals. The petals have been highly praised as an ingredient in jams, vinegar, cakes and as a delicious garnish. Indeed a useful plant.


But not only mankind, the gods have also been great admirers of the beautiful flower.

Map of NaxosWhen Dionysus was a rather little boy his mother sent him off on foot to Naxos, where they would build temples in his honor, and worship him as a god, as he was of  godly seed, you know, and now it was his time to be worshiped.
He walked and walked. The road was long, and it was terribly hot, so he sat down on a stone to rest. Right in front of his legs grew a plant he found so beautiful that he couldn’t resist its allure, and thus he unearthed it to take it with him. He wanted to plant it when he arrived at Naxos. He was afraid it would fade in the strong sun, and therefore he put it into a bird’s bone he also found. Then he went on.
When he had walked for a while, the plant had grown out of the bird’s bone, and hurled itself around it. Fortunately Dionysus found a lion’s bone, and put his bird’s bone with the plant into it. So he continued his walk, but when he had gone for a while, the plant also grew out of the lion’s bone, and had hurled up around it as well.

Dionysus and the Rose

Statue of Dionysus, marble, height 208 cm, 2nd century CE (arms and legs were heavily restored in the 18th century), found in Italy. Louvre, Paris. Photo © Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons



Then he found a large donkey bone, and put both bones with he plant into it.
Finally, he arrived at Naxos, and it was lucky, because now the plant had grown in and around all three bones. He then planted everything into the ground next to a rose-bush, and the plant continued growing and hurling around the rose-bush.

Dionysus had found the vine, and it yielded delicious grapes of which he made the first wine, and gave it to the humans to enjoy.

And when they drink it, they first become light as birds, then as brave as lions, and at last as stupid as donkeys.


Dionysus himself  learned from the rose to use a wreath of roses around his head and thereby avoid to become like a donkey.


Tender green grapes

Photo by BrownyCat (CC)

About ImaKalya

I write about : Food, Health, Thoughts, Herbs and Spices for Body, Soul & Mind
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2 Responses to Dionysus and the Rose

  1. I just added your web site to my favorites. I like reading your posts. Ty!

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