Peplos, Thrace, Mars 28, 2012
Hyacinthus orientalis originates in southern and central Turkey, northern Syria and Israel, from where it was introduced to Europe in early modernity. It is often cultivated, but it occurs in wild form as well. The main difference between the cultivar and the natural plant is the number of flowers per spike. On the cultivar they may range from 40 to 100, while on the natural plant (as the one on the pictures above) they are usually less than 15. According to Greek mythology Hyacinthe was a beautifull young lover of Apollo, who, when killed accidentally, was transformed by the god to the namebearing flower. The sources are numerous: Homer, Iliad ii.595-600; Apollodorus, Library 1.3.3; Ovid, Metamorphoses 10. 162-219; Pausanias, Description of Greece 3.1.3, 3.19.4; Philostratus the Elder, Images i.24; Philostratus the Younger, Images 14; Lucian, Dialogues of the Gods 14. However, the plant described by Theophrastus, History of Plants 6.6.10, under the name of hyakinthos, is not the one we call nowadays by the same name. It was probably some species of iris.