A couple of weeks ago, I bought myself a potted Amaryllis bulb at Trader Joe's. Gayland used to give me one on or right after my birthday, figuring it would be open for Christmas -- and it nearly always was.
The Greeks called these beautiful flowers Amarullis, which means “splendor” or “sparkling.” Even the unopened bud is very shiny.
The Greek poet Virgil wrote that this stunning red flower once was a shy nymph named Amaryllis. She fell deeply in love with Alteo, a shepherd described as having Hercules' strength and Apollo's beauty, but who paid attention only to his plants and flowers. He did not return her affections. Heck, he didn't even notice her existence.
Hoping that she could win him over by giving him the thing he desired most - a flower that had never existed in the world before - Amaryllis sought advice from the oracle of Delphi.
Following the oracle's instructions, Amaryllis dressed in maiden's white and appeared at Alteo's door for 30 nights in a row. Each night, outside his door, she pierced her heart with a golden arrow, causing blood to fall to the ground. Finally Alteo opened his door. There he beheld a gorgeous scarlet flower, sprung from the blood of Amaryllis's heart.
Well, that got his attention. He got his unique flower, Amaryllis' heart was healed, and she got the object of her desire. One hopes they were happy with the bargain. One also thinks the oracle was a creep.
Today, the amaryllis symbolizes pride, determination and radiant beauty. Other sources say it symbolizes success, strength, and determination.
I say it should symbolize the lengths to which some besotted young women will go to catch the attention of an oblivious male.
For me, it's a sweet echo of gifts of beauty from my absent love. This particular Amaryllis has put out two shoots, creating an absolute spectacle of itself. Gayland would have loved it.
Sable has adopted it as her own personal stage setting, sitting beside at every opportunity because she knows its bright red enhances her sable beauty.
It IS gorgeous. Looking at it makes me smile through my tears.