Lilacs, also known as Syringa, are sensational and delightful flowers. Unfortunately, they are lesser known or less mainstream compared to other flowers we love and enjoy today. Perhaps their classic, Victorian-era quality is what makes them seem less contemporary. However, lilacs are incredibly beautiful and meaningful flowers. They symbolize love, especially the first feelings associated with love due to its Greek origin story. The naming origin of the Syringa in Ancient Greek stems from the word “syrinx,” meaning “pipe,” referencing the tubular shape of the flower, where the musical instrument of the flute also originates. Essentially, the lilac (Syrinx) transforms from a woman to a tubular shaped flower (also considered the flute). “Syrinx” is the classical name of the myth associated with lilacs. The common name of “lilac” originates from French.
The Greek myth of Syrinx is a fascinating one:
According to Dave’s Garden,
Syringa was a beautiful wood nymph in Greek mythology. The god Pan spied her one day, lusted for her and took chase. Depending on the version of the story, to get away from him, she either transformed herself into a reed or a lilac bush, both of which make great flutes. Ultimately, Pan won because he made a flute from her disguise and it never left his side from then on.
This is a short summary of a story which appears originally in Ovid’s Metamorphoses poem. The famous musical composer Claude Debussy wrote a song called “Syrinx” which is played on the flute and is about the lost love of Pan and his mourning. Pan also transcends his lost love with attaining the joy of the flute (which he obtains when Syrinx transforms herself). Clearly, the Greek myth of Pan’s lost love represents a bigger story related the beauty of lilacs and how they originate.
Lilacs are the state flower of New Hampshire and there is also a consistent mentioning of lilacs in the 1930 Nancy Drew novel, The Mystery at Lilac Inn. Lilacs are a beautiful and sensational kind of flower that should be more commonly embraced. The painting below depicts Syrinx escaping Pan to become a lilac by French painter Edmund Dulac. When you are considering what flowers to choose for your next bouquet or which flower scent to choose for a new perfume, consider the lilac.