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In the Roman Empire, several deities had associations with nature, animals, and plants. Flora was the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of Spring and was especially venerated during springtime. However, she remained a minor goddess in the Roman pantheon with few
Who Was Flora?
Flora was the deity of the flowering plants, fertility, spring, and blossoming. Although she was a minor figure compared to other goddesses of the Roman empire, she was important as a fertility goddess. Flora was responsible for the abundance of the crops in spring, so her worship strengthened as this season approached. Her name derives from the Latin floris, which means flower, and her Greek counterpart was the nymph, Chloris. The Sabine King Titus Tatius introduced Flora into the Roman pantheon.
At the beginning of her myth, Flora had associations only with the flowering plants which bore fruit. As time went by, she became the goddess of all flowering plants, both ornamental and fruit-bearing ones. Flora was married to Favonius, the wind god, also known as Zephyr. In some accounts, she was also the goddess of youth. According to some myths, she was the handmaid of the goddess Ceres.
Flora’s Role in Roman Mythology
Flora was a worshipped goddess for her role in the springtime. When it was time for the flowering crops to blossom, the Romans had different festivals and adorations for Flora. She received special prayers for the prosperity of fruits, harvest, fields, and flowers. Flora was most worshipped in April and May and had many festivals.
Flora played a central role with Juno in the birth of Mars. In this myth, Flora gave Juno a magical flower that would allow her to give birth to Mars without a father. Juno did this out of jealousy because Jupiter had given birth to Minerva without her. With this flower, Juno was able to conceive Mars alone.
Worship of Flora
Flora had two worship temples in Rome – one near the Circus Maximus, and the other on the Quirinal Hill. The temple near the Circus Maximus was in the vicinity of the temples and worship centers of other goddesses associated with fertility, like Ceres. The exact location of this temple has not been found. Some sources suggest that the temple on the Quirinal Hill was built where King Titus Tatius had one of the first altars for the goddess in Rome.
Apart from her foremost worship centers, Flora had a great festival known as Floralia. This festival took place between April 27 and May 3, and it celebrated the renewal of life in spring. People also celebrated flowers, harvest, and drinking during the Floralia.
Flora in Art
Flora appears in many artworks, such as musical compositions, paintings, and sculptures. There are several sculptures of the goddess in Spain, Italy, and even Poland.
One of her most best-known appearances is in The Awakening of Flora, a famous ballet of the 19th century. She also appears among the deities of Henry Purcell’s Nymph and Shepherds. In paintings, her most prominent depiction might be Primavera, a famous painting from Botticelli.
Flora was depicted wearing light clothing, like spring dresses, with flowers as a crown or with a bouquet in her hands.
Although Flora might not be the greatest goddess of Roman culture, she was a notable deity with an important role. Her name continues to be used in the word flora a term for vegetation of a specific environment.