Flora (Latin: Fl?ra) is a Roman goddess of flowers and of the season of spring - a symbol for nature and flowers (especially the may-flower). While she was otherwise a relatively minor figure in Roman mythology, being one among several fertility goddesses, her association with the spring gave her particular importance at the coming of springtime, as did her role as goddess of youth. She was one of the fifteen deities who had their own flamen, the Floralis, one of the flamines minores. Her Greek counterpart is Chloris.
The name Fl?ra descends from Proto-Italic *fl?s? ('goddess of flowers'), itself a derivation from Proto-Italic *fl?s ('flower'; cf. Latin fl?s, fl?ris 'blossom, flower'). It is cognate with the Oscan goddess of flowers Fluusa, demonstrating that the cult was known more widely among Italic peoples. The name ultimately derives from Proto-Indo-European *b?lehs ('blossoming').
Her festival, the Floralia, was held between April 28 and May 3 and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, drinking, and flowers. The festival was first instituted in 240 B.C.E, and on the advice of the Sibylline books, she was also given a temple in 238 B.C.E. At the festival, with the men decked in flowers, and the women wearing normally forbidden gay costumes, five days of farces and mimes were enacted - ithyphallic, and including nudity when called for - followed by a sixth day of the hunting of goats and hares. On May 23 another (rose) festival was held in her honor.
Flora by Titian, 1515
Idealized Portrait of a Courtesan as Flora by Bartolomeo Veneto, c. 1520
Flora by Claude Vignon, 1650
Flora by Rembrandt, 1654
Flora or Hebe by Alexander Roslin, 18th century
Flora by Valentine Walter Bromley, 1874
Flora by Ferdinand Keller, 1883
Flora by Mosè Bianchi 1890