KHLORIS (Chloris) was the goddess of flowers and a nymph of the Islands of the Blessed. She was the wife of Zephyros the West-Wind and the mother of Karpos (Carpus), god of fruit. Her Roman name was Flora.
FAMILY OF CHLORIS
Probably OKEANOS (as implied by Ovid)
KARPOS (by Zephyros) (Other references)
CHLORIS (Chlôris). The wife of Zephyrus, and the goddess of flowers, so that she is identical with the Roman Flora. (Ov. Fast. v. 195.)
FLORA. The Roman goddess of flowers and spring. The writers, whose object it was to bring the Roman religion into contempt, relate that Flora had been, like Acca Laurentia, a courtesan, who accumulated a large property, and bequeathed it to the Roman people, in return for which she was honoured with the annual festival of the Floralia. (Lactant. i. 20.) But her worship was established at Rome in the very earliest times, for a temple is said to have been vowed to her by king Tatius (Varro, de. L. L. v. 74), and Numa appointed a flamen to her. The resemblance between the names Flora and Chloris led the later Romans to identify the two divinities. Her temple at Rome was situated near the Circus Maximus (Tac. Ann. ii. 49), and her festival was celebrated from the 28th of April till the first of May, with extravagant merriment and lasciviousness. (Dict. of Ant. s. v. Floralia.)
Source: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.
CLASSICAL LITERATURE QUOTES
Ovid, Fasti 5. 193 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"The goddess [Flora] replied to my questions, as she talks, her lips breathe spring roses : ‘I was Chloris, whom am now called Flora. Latin speech corrupted a Greek letter of my name. I was Chloris, Nympha of the happy fields [Elysium], the homes of the blessed (you hear) in earlier times. To describe my beauty would mar my modesty : it found my mother a son-in law god. It was spring, I wandered; Zephyrus (the West Wind) saw me, I left. He pursues, I run : he was the stronger; and Boreas gave his brother full rights of rape by robbing Erechtheus' house of its prize [Oreithyia]. But he makes good the rape by naming me his bride, and I have no complaints about my marriage.
‘I enjoy perpetual spring : the year always shines, trees are leafing, the soild always fodders. I have a fruitful garden in my dowered fields, fanned by breezes, fed by limpid fountains. My husband filled it with well-bred flowers, saying : "Have jurisdiction of the flower, goddess." I often wanted to number the colours displayed, but could not : their abundance defied measure. As soon as the dewy frost is cast from the leaves and sunbeams warm the dappled blossom, the Horae (Seasons) assemble, hitch up their coloured dresses and collect these gifts of mine in light tubs. Suddenly the Charites (Graces) burst in, and weave chaplets and crowns to entwine the hair of gods. I first scattered new seed across countless nations; earth was formerly a single colour. I first made a flower from Therapnean blood [Hyacinthus the larkspur flower], and its petal still inscribes the lament. You, too, narcissus, have a name in tended gardens, unhappy in your undivided self. Why mention Crocus, Attis or Cinyras' son, from whose wounds I made a tribute soar?’"
FLORA & THE BIRTH OF MARS (ARES)
Ovid, Fasti 5. 229 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"[Flora tells the tale of the birth of Mars :] Mars [Ares] also, you may not know, was formed by my arts. I pray that Jove [Zeus] stays ignorant of this. Holy Juno [Hera], when Minerva [Athene] sprang unmothered, was hurt that Jove did not need her service. She went to complain to Oceanus of her husband's deeds. She stopped at our door, tired from the journey. As soon as I saw her, I asked, ‘What's brought you here, Saturnia [Hera]?’
She reports where she's going, and cites the cause. I consoled her with friendly words : ‘Words,’ she declares, ‘cannot relieve my pain. If Jove became a father without using a spouse and possesses both titles by himself, why should I not expect a spouseless motherhood, chaste parturition, untouched by a man? I'll try every drug on the broad earth and empty Oceanus and the hollows of Tartarus.’
Her speech was mid-course; my face was hesitant. ‘You look, Nympha, as thou you can help,’ she says. Three times I wanted to help, three times my tongue stuck : Jupiter's anger caused massive fear. ‘Please help me,’ she said, ‘my source will be concealed;’ and the divine Styx testifies to this. ‘A flower,’ I said, ‘from the fields of Olenus will grant your wish. It's unique to my gardens. I was told: "Touch a barren cow; she'll be a mother." I touched. No delay: she was a mother.’
I quickly plucked the clinging flower with my thumb. Juno feels its touch and at the touch conceives. She bulges, and enters Thrace and west Propontis, and fulfils her wish: Mars [Ares] was created. Recalling my role in his birth, Mars said : ‘You, too, should have a place in Romulus' city.’"
CULT OF FLORA AT ROME
Ovid, Fasti 5. 183 ff (trans.Boyle) (Roman poetry C1st B.C. to C1st A.D.) :
"May 2 Floralia Ludi Fastus. Be present, [Flora] mother of flowers, honoured with shows and play. I postponed your role from last month. You start in April and cross to the time of May: one has you as it leaves, one as it comes. Since the edges of these moths are yours and defer to you, either of them suits your praises. The Circus continues and the theatre's lauded palm. Let this song, too, join the Circus spectacle. Teach me yourself who you are. Men's opinions deceive. You will be the best source for your name. [The goddess describes her origins, see the passage quoted above.] . . .
‘Perhaps you think my rule is confined to dainty wreaths. My divinity touches the fields, too. If crops flower well, the threshing-floor churns wealth; if the vines flower well, Bacchus flows; if the olives flower well, the year shimmers and the season fills with bursting fruit. Once their bloom is damages, vetches and beans die, your lentils die, too, alien Nile. Wines also bloom, carefully stored in great cellars, and film seals the surface of the vats. Honey is my gift. I call winged honey-makers [i.e. bees] to violets, clover and greying thyme. We do the same thing also, when in youthful years our spirits riot and the body glows.’
As she spoke, I admired her mutely. ‘You've the right,’ she says, ‘to have nay questions answered.’ ‘Tell me, goddess,’ I asked, ‘the origin of the shows.’ I had hardly stopped. She replied to me: ‘The other modes of luxury did not yet flourish; riches lay in cattle or broad estates (hence the Latin words for wealthy and for money), but already wealth was got illegally. The custom grew of grazing the people's pastures, and it was long allowed to go unpunished. The masses lacked champions to protect public land, and the lazy alone grazed privately. This license was arraigned before the Publicii, Aediles of the plebs. Courage failed before. The people recovered their rights, the guilty were fined; the champion's public spirit was praised. Part of the fine was given to me, and the victors began the new shows amid great applause. Part of it financed a slope in a beetling cliff; it's now a useful road, named Publicius.’
I thought the shows were made annual. She denied it, and added other words to her speech. ‘Honour pricks us, too. We love festivals and altars; celestials are a status-greedy bunch. Sin often renders the gods hostile to a man; a sweet victim pays for the offence . . . If we are neglected, the offence is punished massively, and anger exceeds just bounds . . . The Roman Fathers also passes me by. What was I to do--to demonstrate my dismay and to penalize their insult to me? Distress let duty slip. I failed to guard the fields, and I neglected my fruitful garden. Lilies had fallen, you could see violets parched and tendrils droop on the crimson saffron. Zephyrus (the West Wind) often said to me : "Do not ruin your dowry." My dowry was now worthless. The olives flowered; but wanton winds damaged them. The crops flowered; hailstorms ruined the crops. The vines offered hope Auster (the South Wind) blackens the sky and sudden rain ravishes their leaves. I did not want this; my anger is not cruel, but I lacked the desire to protect. The Fathers met and vowed an annual festival to my godhead [the Floralia], if the year flowered well. I acknowledged the vow. Consul Laenas and Consul Postumius discharged the shows for me.’
I was about to inquire why these shows had greater lewdness and more permissive play, but it came to me that this deity is no prig: the gifts of the goddess frame our pleasures. Drinkers encircle their brows with plaited crowns, burnished tables hide under rose showers. Tipsy guests dance with linden wreaths in their hair, as wine coaxes indiscretion and skill. Tipsy lovers serenade a pretty girl's hard door, while delicate chains dress their scented hair. No business is conducted with garlanded brows, no one scarfed with flowers drinks pure water. While no one mixed you, Achelous, with the grape, gathering roses lacked all attraction. Bacchus loves flowers. Bacchus' pleasure in the wreath can be known from Ariadne's star. Light theatre suits her. Do not, believe me, do not rank her with the tragic-booted goddesses. Indeed the reason why a crowd of whores packs these shows is not difficult to find. She is neither one of the glum set nor a snob; she wants her rites open to the plebs, and warns us to use life's beauty as it blooms. The thorn is spurned when the rose has dropped. And yet why, when white robes are worn at Ceres' feast, do multi-coloured dresses best suit her? Is it because ripe ears of corn blanch the harvest, but flowers have every feature and hue? She nodded and flowers spilled from her cascading hair, like roses scattered upon a table.
There still remained the lights, whose cause eluded me, when she removed my bafflement with this : ‘Because the meadows light up with purple flowers, lights were believed to suit my festival; or because no flower or flame is dull in colour, and the brightness of each attracts the eye; or because nocturnal licence best suits our joys. The third cause is derived from the truth.’ ‘A little matter remains to nose into,’ I said, ‘If it is allowed.’ She said, ‘It is allowed.’
‘Why instead of Libyan lions are peaceful deer and timorous rabbits netted for you?’ Her realm, she replied, was not forests but gardens and fields, which no savage beast may enter.
She needed, and vanishes in the vaporous breeze. Her scent stayed; you'd know a goddess had been. That the song of Naso may flower for all time, sprinkle, I beg, my heart with your gifts."
- Ovid, Fasti - Latin Poetry C1st B.C. - C1st A.D.