Rose Symbolism in Western Culture
The rose occurs throughout Western literature, primarily as a symbol of the passionate love between a man and a woman. The rose came originally from Persia. To the Arabs it was a masculine flower and a symbol of joy. To the Romans it was a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love, and to the Christians a symbol of the Virgin Mary (who was known as the “Rosa
Mystica”---the mysterious rose). Medieval theologians
attributed the origin of the rose to the drops of Christ’s blood
falling on a thorn bush.
The quality of love is signified by the color of the rose. A white rose represents innocent (nonsexual) love, a pink rose represents first love, and a red rose true love. The thorns of the rose are a reminder of human fallibility and guilt, since the roses in the Garden of Eden were said to have no thorns. In particular, they recall mankind’s original sin.
The best overview of given by Gabriel Tergit in Flowers
Through the Ages (1961). Observing that the rose was
desiccated to the goddess of love and thus to the mystery of life, Tergit argues that it naturally became a symbol of the rose is strengthened by the structure of the flower: the folded structure of the flower by its very nature, Tergit argues that it naturally
became a symbolic significance of the rose is strengthened by
the structure of the flower: the folded structure of the flower by
its very nature, Tergit suggests, conceals a “secret inner core”.