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above, the bright sparkle of whose eye convinced us that the single flower was of value, and a mark of especial regard. The Rose appeared to be valued as some rare exotic, and not to be idly bestowed where there was small probability of its due appreciation; it was, indeed, a "rara flora in urbe" and quite superseded by the very pretty and abundant violets.
The modern Romans have not only lost many of the good qualities of their early ancestors, but they have also escaped much of the eifeminate softness which characterized the Romans under some of the later emperors; and, as belonging to this state of luxury, the cultivation of the Rose has, in modern times^ been much neglected. The homage of the Romans is now reserved for art, and the beautiful products of nature are, in their opinion, worthy only of secondary consideration. The Rose is now mostly confined in that city to the residences of the wealthier classes, and can scarcely be said to have resumed its old place in Roman esteem until it is again a favorite with the mass of the people.
When Cleopatra went into Cilicia to meet Mark Antony, she gave him, for several successive days, festivals in which she displayed a truly royal magnificence. She caused to be placed in the banqueting hall twelve couches, each of which would hold three guests. The walls were covered with purple tapestry, interwoven with gold; all the vases were of gold, admirably executed, and enriched with precious stones.
On the fourth day, the queen carried her sumptuousness so far as to pay a talent (about six hundred dollars) for a quantity of roses, with which she caused the floor of the hall to be covered to the depth of eighteen inches. These flowers were retained by a very fine net, in order that the guests might walk over them.
After the loss of the battle of Actium, Antony, not wishing to survive his defeat, from fear of falling into the hands of Augustus, thrust himself through with his sword, and requested Cleopatra to scatter perfumes over his tomb, and to cover it with roses.
The greatest profusion of roses mentioned in ancient history, and which is scarcely credible, is that w^hich Suetonius attributes to Sero. This author says, that at a fete which the emperor gave in the Gulf of Baise, when inns were established on the banks, and ladies of distinction played the part of hostesses, the expense incurred for roses alone was more than four millions of sesterces— about $100,000. Since Nero, many of his successors have nearly equaled him in prodigal enjoyment of the luxury of roses. Lucius Aurelius Yerus, whose licentiousness and destitution of every manly quality equaled that of the worst emperors, but, whom no one reproaches with any act of cruelty, was the inventor of a new species of luxury. He had a couch made on which were four raised cushions, closed on all sides by a very thin net, and filled with leaves of roses. Heliogabalus, celebrated for luxury and vice of every kind, caused roses to be crushed with the kernels of the pine (Pinus maritima), in order to increase the perfume. The same emperor caused roses to be scattered over the couches, the halls, and even the porticoes of the palace, and he renewed this profusion with flowers of every kind—lilies, violets, hyacinths, narcissus, etc. Gallien, another equally cruel and luxurious prince, lay, according to some authors, under arbors of roses; and, according to others, on beds covered with these flowers. And finally, Carrius, another licentious and prodigal emperor, who reigned only a few months, caused roses to be scattered over the chambers of his palace, and on the couches of his guests.
THE ROSE, m CEREMONIES AND FESTIVALS, AND IN THE ADORNMENT OF BURIAL-PLACES.
Among the ancients, the Rose was conspicuous in all the sacred ceremonies, and in public and private fetes. The Greeks and the Romans surrounded the statues of Yenus, of Hebe, and of Flora, with garlands of roses. They were lavish of these flowers at the festivals of Flora; in those of Juno, at Argos, the statue of the Olympian Queen was crowned with lilies and roses. In the festivals of Hymen, at Athens, the youth of both sexes, crowned with roses and adorned with flowers, mingled in dances which were intended to represent the innocence of primeval times. At Rome, in the public rejoicings, they sometimes strewed the streets with roses and other flowers. It is thus that Lucretius gives a description of the manner in which were celebrated the festivals of Cybele.*
To scatter flowers on the passage of the funeral procession of a private citizen was an honor not common at Rome. Pliny informs us, however, that a Scipio, belonging to the illustrious family of that name, who while he was tribune, fulfilled his duties to the satisfaction of the people, dying without leaving sufficient to pay his funeral expenses, the people voluntarily contributed to pay them, and on the appearance of the body, cast flowers upon its passage.
"Ergo cum primum, niagnas invecta per urbes
Lucretius, lib. ii., ver. 625.
At Baise, when fetes were given upon the water, the whole surface of the lake of Lucina appeared covered with roses.
The custom of encircling the head5 of surrounding the neck, and also the breast, with crowns and garlands of roses, on different occasions, and particularly during the last days of a gay festival, when, after the solid dishes, they passed to the dessert and the rare wines, is well known by the odes of Anacreon, and from the writings of several of the ancient poets.
The voluptuous Horace, when he abandoned himself to pleasures, was always supplied with roses. In congratulating one of his friends on his safe return from Spain, he recommended that these flowers should not be wanting at the festival. On another occasion, he told his favorite servant that he cordially disliked the pompous displays of the Persians, and escaped them by searching in what place the late Rose was found. Drawing a picture of luxurious ease for his friend Hirpinus, he speaks of " lying under the shade of a lofty Plane or Pine tree, perfuming our spotless hair with Assyrian spikenard, and crowning ourselves with roses." We can very well judge how general had become the custom of making crowns of roses, from the number of times which it is mentioned in Pliny, and the frequency with which Martial speaks of it in his epigrams. The latter author also informs us, that in the very height of Roman luxury and reveling, the most favorable time for soliciting and obtaining a favor was when the patron was entirely given up to the pleasures of the table and of roses.*
Whatever doubt may exist of the use of crowns of roses, as objects of luxury, it is well authenticated, that
* "Hsec hora est tua, dum furit Lyseus
Cum regnat Kosa, cum madent capilli,
Lib. x., epig. 19.
among medical men of antiquity, endeavors were made to determine what kinds of flowers were suitable to place in crowns without detriment to health; and according to the report made on this subject, the parsley, the ivy, the myrtle, and the Rose*, possessed peculiar virtues for dissipating the fumes of the wine. According to Athenseus, a crown of roses possessed not only the property of alleviating pain in the head, but had a very refreshing effect.
Pliny mentions two Greek physicians—Mnesitheus and Callimachus,—-who wrote on this subject.
The custom of crowning with roses had passed from the Greeks to the Romans, and it also existed among the , Hebrews, who had probably borrowed it from some of the neighboring nations, either from the Egyptians, in the midst of whom they had spent many years, or from the Babylonians, with whom they had in the captivity much connection. The practice of this custom among the Israelites is attested by the previously quoted passage, in the apocryphal "Wisdom of Solomon."
At Rome it was not only at the religious festivals that they crowned themselves with roses and other flowers, but it was the custom to wear these crowns during public and private fetes; they were strictly forbidden at some other times, and above all on certain public occasions, where to appear with such an ornament would pass for an insult to a public calamity. Pliny informs us, that during the second Punic war, which lasted sixteen years, a banker named Lucius Fulvius, for looking from his gallery on the Forum, and wearing a crown of roses on his head, was, by order of the Senate, sent to prison, from which he was not liberated until the end of the war.
This anecdote, moreover, proves that crowns of roses were in fashion at Rome at an early period, and before licentiousness and luxury had yet made many inroads up? gn the national character.
It may readily be supposed, that at Rome, under th@ 8*