Archive for December, 2006


December 29, 2006

Hamlet I.3. “A violet in the youth of primy nature,/ Forward, not permanent, sweet, not lasting,/ the perfume and suppliance of a minute/ –No more.”

Official flower of Athens and the political party of Napoleon. It’s scent, as Laertes states, is short-lived once the flower has been cut. More here.


“Arabian Tree”

December 27, 2006

Phoenix and The Turtle, [1-4]. “Let the bird of loudest lay/ On the sole Arabian tree/ Herald sad and trumpet be/ To whose sound chaste wings obey” .

Associated with acacia. Wikipedia adds that the phoenix dies in a nest it has built out of cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum).

Delphinium Ajacis

December 22, 2006

Or Rocket Larkspur: “Winter Annual, native to S. Europe, naturalized throughout the U.S.[…] Seeds and leaves are poisonous, likely to rot at base in soils which retain excessive moisture.” Used by Greeks and Romans as an emetic and cathartic, Ovid associates the flower with the hyacinthe. Metamorphoses XIII, 580-590: “there sprang a purple flower, which before had sprung from the mortal wound of Hyacinthus.” Pausanias (Descriptions of Greece, I.35.4-5) says it’s white and red, “Those who dwell about Salamis say it was when Ajax died that the flower first appeared in their country. It is white and tinged with red, both flower and leaves being smaller than those of the lilly; there are letters on it like those of the iris.” Wikipedia says that what was known to poets in myth as the hyacinth was in fact the iris. Bullfinch’s mythology says: “On the spot where his blood sank into the earth a flower sprang up, called the hyacinth, bearing on its leaves the first two letters of the name of Ajax, Ai, the Greek for ‘woe’ Thus Ajax is a claimant with the boy Hyacinthus for the honour of giving birth to this flower. There is a species of Larkspur which represents the hyacinth of the poets in preserving the memory of this event, the Delphinium Ajacis- Ajax’s Larkspur.” Etymologically, ‘larkspur‘ is said to come from from the flower’s resemblance to the “large hind claws” of the lark. Delphinium is Latin for ‘dolphin’ and also refers to the physical attributes of the flower.

Complete Works

December 22, 2006

The links below lead to lists of the plant mentions that were found in each work. (In a few cases, the lists haven’t been compiled and the links lead to wikipedia). An asterix by a title indicates that no plant mentions were found in that book. Accuracy may vary.

Plato’s Dialogues: Apology, Crito*, Charmides, Laches, Lysis, Euthyphro, Menexenus, Lesser Hippias*, Ion, Gorgias, Protagoras, Meno*, Euthydemus, Cratylus, Phaedo, Phaedrus, Symposium, Republic, Theaetetus, Parmenides, Sophist, Statesman, Philebus, Timaeus, Critias, Laws. Seventh Letter*.

Shakespeare:The Tempest, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, The Comedy of Errors, Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, As You Like It, Taming of the Shrew, All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night or What You Will, The Winter’s Tale, Pericles, Prince of Tyre, Cymbeline, King John, Richard II, Henry IV.1, Henry IV.2, Henry V, Henry VI.1, Henry VI.2, Henry VI.3, Richard III, Henry VIII, Romeo and Juliet, Coriolanus, Titus Andronicus, Timon of Athens, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Hamlet, Troilus and Cressida, King Lear, Othello, Antony and Cleopatra, The Sonnets, Venus and Adonis, The Rape of Lucrece, The Passionate Pilgrim, The Phoenix and the Turtle, A Lover’s Complaint.

Thoreau: A Walk to Wachusett, A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience*, Slavery in Massachusetts, Walden, A Plea for Captain John Brown, Excursions, Life Without Principle, The Maine Woods, Cape Cod, Early Spring in Massachusetts, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Miscellanies, Journal of Henry David Thoreau, Of Woodland Pools, Spring-holes & Ditches, Wild Apples, Walking, […]

Homer: The Iliad [1-12, 13-24], The Odyssey [1-12, 13-24].

Stendhal: Armance; Le Rouge et le Noir; La Chartreuse de Parme; Lucien Leuwen; Lamiel; The Life of Henry Brulard; The Pink and the Green; Mina de Vanghel; L’Abbesse de Castro; The Duchess of Palliano; Vittoria Accoramboni; Vanina Vanini; The Cenci; De L’Amour; Souvenirs d’Égotisme; Rome, Naples et Florence; Promenades dans Rome; […]