The Glory and Story of the Rose

Anacreonta 55

“Along with garland bearing spring
I plan to sing clearly
Of her gentle companion, the rose.

This is the immortals’ breath,
This is delight for mortals,
And the Graces’ pride in all seasons,
The lovely plaything
Of blossoming Loves.

This is a theme for myths,
This charming shoot of the Muses,
Sweet to find when one is making
Their way along prickly paths;
Sweet to take in turn, to warm
In gentle hands, pressing
This light flower of Love.

Could we ever be without
The rose at the tables
And feasts of Dionysus?

Dawn is called rosy-toed,
The Nymphs are rosy-armed,
Aphrodite is tinted-rose
When named by people who know.

This pleasure is the same for the ignorant;
This is helpful to the sick too;
This helps protect the dead and
This even fights against time:
For the old age of roses
Retains the charming scent of something new

Come, let’s talk of its creation:
When from the murky sea
The water was giving birth to
Aphrodite dampened with foam,
And Zeus was displaying on his brow
War-loving Athena
A terror for Olympus to see,
The earth let flower
A new surprising growth of roses,
An intricate creation.

She made the rose to be
Like the blessed gods themselves–
Then Luaios watered it with nektar,
Joining it to the haughty thorn,
a life to last forever.

στεφανηφόρου μετ᾿ ἦρος
μέλομαι ῥόδον τέρεινον
συνέταιρον ὀξὺ μέλπειν.
τόδε γὰρ θεῶν ἄημα,
τόδε καὶ βροτοῖσι χάρμα,
Χάρισίν τ᾿ ἄγαλμ᾿ ἐν ὥραις,
πολυανθέων Ἐρώτων
ἀφροδίσιόν τ᾿ ἄθυρμα·

τόδε καὶ μέλημα μύθοις
χαρίεν φυτόν τε Μουσῶν·
γλυκὺ καὶ ποιοῦντι πεῖραν
ἐν ἀκανθίναις ἀταρποῖς,
γλυκὺ δ᾿ αὖ λαβόντι, θάλπειν
μαλακαῖσι χερσί, κοῦφον
προσάγοντ᾿ Ἔρωτος ἄνθος.

θαλίαις τί κἀν τραπέζαις
Διονυσίαις τ᾿ ἑορταῖς
δίχα τοῦ ῥόδου γένοιτ᾿ ἄν;

ῥοδοδάκτυλος μὲν Ἠώς,
ῥοδοπήχεες δὲ Νύμφαι,
ῥοδόχρους δὲ κἀφροδίτα
παρὰ τῶν σοφῶν καλεῖται.

ἀσόφῳ τόδ᾿ αὐτὸ τερπνόν·
τόδε καὶ νοσοῦσιν ἀρκεῖ,
τόδε καὶ νεκροῖς ἀμύνει,
τόδε καὶ χρόνον βιᾶται·
χαρίεν ῥόδων δὲ γῆρας
νεότητος ἔσχεν ὀδμήν.

φέρε δὴ φύσιν λέγωμεν·
χαροπῆς ὅτ᾿ ἐκ θαλάττης
δεδροσωμένην Κυθήρην
ἐλόχευε πόντος ἀφρῷ
πολεμόκλονόν τ᾿ Ἀθήνην
κορυφῆς ἔδειξεν ὁ Ζεύς,
φοβερὰν θέαν Ὀλύμπῳ,
τότε καὶ ῥόδων ἀγητὸν
νέον ἔρνος ἤνθισε χθών,
πολυδαίδαλον λόχευμα·

μακάρων θεῶν δ᾿ ὅμοιον
ῥόδον ὡς γένοιτο, νέκταρ
ἐπιτέγξας ἀνέθηλεν
ἀγέρωχον ἐξ ἀκάνθης
φυτὸν ἄμβροτον Λυαῖος.

Impressionistic oil painting of pink roses
Pierre August Renoir, “Roses” 1910