Rosemary is often linked to the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who in some versions of the myth is cloaked in the herb at the time of her birth.
Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of beauty, fertility, and love, was born from the foam of the sea after the Titan Cronos cut off his father Ouranos’ penis and threw it in the sea. She arrived ashore on a seashell, as Boticelli infamously painted in The Birth of Venus, her Roman goddess counterpart.
Rosemary is as strongly tied to the sea as Aphrodite; the herb grows along the coast of the Mediterranean and can survive simply on the moisture in the air that is brought from the sea by gusts of wind, hence its name Rosmarinus, which means “dew of the sea.”
The goddess of love and the mother of several children with various gods has also imparted attributes of an aphrodisiac and a fertility enhancer to rosemary.
The herb has also been thought to contain memory boosting powers, thus it has been associated with the Titaness Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory and the mother of the nine Muses.
Mnemosyne was thought to have given humans their capacity for memories, but at the time of their death, so as to ease their suffering in the underworld, would take all their memories by having them drink from Lethe, the river of forgetfulness.
Because of this association Greek scholars would wear wreaths of rosemary while taking exams so as to enhance their memory and improve their performance. Even to this day, students keep a sprig nearby and brides and grooms keep the herb close so as to not forget their vows.
“Bites of History: Remember Rosemary.” Retrieved 24 July 2012.
“Goddess of the Pillar: The Mythology of Upright Rosemary.” Retrieved 24 July 2012.
“Rosemary, an Honored Member of The Botanical Family Lamiaceae.” Retrieved 24 July 2012.