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The Rose Garden

Subrosa - What's In A Name?

Excerpted from an article in Subrosa 6 - May-June 1999 by Bea Whyld


When the decision was made to name this publication Subrosa, much conversation was generated among Docents and Volunteers in the Rose Garden as to the true meaning of the word.

The rose, more than any other flower, has entwined itself in men's hearts and history. Roses have lent their legendary romance to the Garden of Eden, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and to the gardens of ancient Persia. The rose was the flower of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love and beauty, and in Roman times, it became the flower of Venus and in order that his deeds, Love (Eros) would be hidden, he dedicated this gift to Harpocrates, the God of Silence.

In the odes of poets and balladeers, the rose stood for the mysteries of love.

Lore has it that Cleopatra welcomed Marc Antony in a room filled with rose petals up to their knees. It was not long before Antony's countrymen were importing shiploads of roses from Egypt.

When Roman nobles dined, their guests were draped with rose garlands, washed with perfumed rose water, and plied with rose puddings and rose wine. Please keep in mind, we are talking about wild or "species" roses.

In Rome, the rose evolved to become a symbol of secrecy. When Romans wanted to signify that a conversation was to be confidential, or the host wanted the guests at his friendly table to know what was said while there would be regarded as secret, he hung a rose above the participants. Thus was born the term sub rosa -- under the rose.

The rise of Christianity gave the rose quite different associations. The white rose became a symbol of the Virgin Mary; the briar rose was believed to have sprung from Christ's blood as He wore the crown of thorns. The glorious focal point of Gothic cathedrals, the stained-glass rose window, was patterned after the radiating petals.

The secular world soon adopted the rose as a favored device. It was the royal emblem of the English Tudor monarchies and the highest award of the Victorian Empire. It is to this day contained in stamps and coins the world over.

Combining all the history of the rose, it is appropriate that Subrosa, therefore, become our symbol of trust, camaraderie, and sharing as in ancient times and excellence as in later history. The Rose Garden organization, hence, performs under the rose and published information under Subrosa.

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