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In Roman mythology, Flora (Latin: Flóra "Flōra") is a Sabine-derived goddess of flowers and of the season of spring – a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower). While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth. She was one of the fifteen deities who had their own flamen, the Floralis, one of the flamines minores. Her Greek counterpart is Chloris.

Etymology

Her name is derived from the Latin word "flos" which means "flower". In modern English, "Flora" also means the plants of a particular region or period.

Festival

Her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 B.C.E, and on the advice of the Sibylline books, she was also given a temple in 238 B.C.E. At the festival, with the men decked in flowers, and the women wearing normally forbidden gay costumes, five days of farces and mimes were enacted – ithyphallic, and including nudity when called for – followed by a sixth day of the hunting of goats and hares. On May 23 another (rose) festival was held in her honor.

Flora's Greek equivalent is Chloris, who was a nymph. Flora is married to Favonius, the wind god also known as Zephyr, and her companion was Hercules.

Flora achieved more prominence in the neo-pagan revival of Antiquity among Renaissance humanists than she had ever enjoyed in ancient Rome.

Music

Flora is the main character of the ballet The Awakening of Flora. She is also mentioned in Henry Purcell's Nymphs and Shepherds.

Sculpture

There are many monuments of Flora, e.g. in Capitoline Museums in Rome (Italy), in Valencia (Spain) and Szczecin (Poland) (see Statue of Flora in Szczecin).

In art

  • Cosiddetta Flora from the Villa di Arianna in Stabiae near Pompeii, 1st century Roman fresco
  • Detail of Flora from Primavera by Botticelli, c. 1482
  • Flora by Titian, 1515
  • Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto, c. 1520
  • Flora by Francesco Melzi, c. 1520
  • Flora and Zephyr, by Jan Brueghel the Elder and Peter Paul Rubens, 1617
  • Flora by Claude Vignon, 1650
  • Flora by Rembrandt, 1654
  • Flora or Hebe by Alexander Roslin, 18th century
  • Flora by Ferdinand Keller, 1883
  • Flora by Mosè Bianchi 1890

See also