Have a very merry Beltane, Floralia, Spring, etc…
The goddess (Flora) replied to my questions, as she talks, her lips breathe spring roses: ‘I was Chloris, whom am now called Flora. Latin speech corrupted a Greek letter of my name. I was Chloris, Nympha of the happy fields [Elysion], the homes of the blessed (you hear) in earlier times. To describe my beauty would mar my modesty: it found my mother a son-in law god. It was spring, I wandered; Zephyrus (the West Wind) saw me, I left. He pursues, I run: he was the stronger; and Boreas gave his brother full rights of rape by robbing Erechtheus’ house of its prize [Oreithyia]. But he makes good the rape by naming me his bride, and I have no complaints about my marriage.
‘I enjoy perpetual spring: the year always shines, trees are leafing, the soild always fodders. I have a fruitful garden in my dowered fields, fanned by breezes, fed by limpid fountains. My husband filled it with well-bred flowers, saying: “Have jurisdiction of the flower, goddess.” I often wanted to number the colours displayed, but could not: their abundance defied measure.
‘As soon as the dewy frost is cast from the leaves and sunbeams warm the dappled blossom, the Horae (Seasons) assemble, hitch up their coloured dresses and collect these gifts of mine in light tubs. Suddenly the Charites (Graces) burst in, and weave chaplets and crowns to entwine the hair of gods. I first scattered new seed across countless nations; earth was formerly a single colour. I first made a flower from Therapnean blood [Hyakinthos the hyacinth], and its petal still inscribes the lament. You, too, narcissus, have a name in tended gardens, unhappy in your undivided self. Why mention Crocus, Attis or Cinyras’ son, from whose wounds I made a tribute soar?’”
Artwork by Josephine Wall, by permission.