Monday, 17 June 2013

Anthea's Anthologies


Anthos was the Greek for flower. Thus Antheios meant flowery. And thus the goddess Hera, who was often associated with flowers, got the byname Antheia. This name was revived in the seventeenth century by the poet Robert Herrick who wanted a nice classical sounding name for a love poem. So he wrote To Anthea, who may Command Him Anything. It begins:

Bid me to live, and I will live
    Thy Protestant to be;
Or bid me love, and I will give
    A loving heart to thee.


(Protestant there means one who vows or protests his loyalty).

Anyway, anthos has found its way into the language in other words. Chrysanthemums are golden flowers. Acanthuses are thorny flowers. And anthologies are books of flowers.

Sometimes anthologies are actual bouquets of flowers. Sometimes anthologies are literal books of flowers. And sometimes anthologies are books of the flowers of literature, the finest poems plucked from the muses' field and collected into one volume. A flower book.

And an anthomaniac is somebody who's mad about flowers, or girls called Anthea.

Poor Anthea.


3 comments:

  1. This reminds me of the poetry anthology 'Other Men's Flowers'. A Heteranthroanthology?

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  2. Um...is it just me, or does Herrick look a lot like Ron Jeremy?

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  3. HaHa - like the RJ reference!

    Laurie -

    ReplyDelete