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"The rose is one of the oldest flowers known to man, and still one of the most popular. Nebuchadnezzar used them to adorn his palace and in Persia, where they were grown for their perfume oil, the petals were used to fill the Sultan's mattress. In Kashmir the Mogul emperors cultivated beautiful rose gardens and roses were strewn in the river to welcome them on their return home. Roses later became synonymous with the worst excesses of the Roman Empire - the peasants were reduced to growing roses instead of food crops in order to satisfy the demands of their rulers. The emperors filled their swimming baths and fountains with rose-water and sat on carpets of rose petals for their feasts and orgies. Heliogabalus used to enjoy showering his guests with rose petals which tumbled down from the ceiling during the festivities.

The Rose is the flower of love. It was created by Chloris, the Greek goddess of flowers, but of a lifeless body of a nymph which she found one day in a clearing in the woods. She asked the help of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, who gave her beauty; Dionysus, the god of wine, added nectar to give her a sweet scent, and the three Graces gave her charm, brightness and joy. Then Zephyr, the West Wind, blew away the clouds so that Apollo, the sun god, could shine and make the flower bloom. And so the Rose was born and was immediately crowned Queen of the Flowers."

Quoted from Pickles, Sheila. The Language of Flowers (New York: Harmony Books, 1989).

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