24 August 2009

Livia's Laurels

Death of Lord Byron
Joseph-Denis Odevaere


Ferrara! in thy wide and grass-grown streets, Whose symmetry was not for solitude, There seems as t'were a curse upon the seats of former sovereigns, and the antique brood of Este, which for many an age made good

Its strength within thy walls, and was of yore Patron or tyrant, as the changing mood Of petty power impell'd, of those he wore The wreath which Dante's brow alone had worn before.


The lightning rent from Ariosto's bust The iron crown of laurel's mimic'd leaves; Nor was the ominous element unjust.

For the true laurel wreath which glory weaves is of the tree no bolt of thunder cleaves, And the false semblance but disgraced his brow; Yet still, if fondly superstition grieves, Know that the lightning sanctifies below Whate'er it strikes yon head is doubly sacred now.


**Byron's Wreath of Laurel**

Wreaths of laurel on a victor's brow began with Livia Drusilla, wife of Caesar Augustus. "A hen of remarkable whiteness... was holding in its beak a laurel branch bearing its berries" and dropped the branch at Livia's feet. From this time onward, the bird and her offspring resided in nests, at the Poultry on the Tiber where the laurel branch was planted and propagated..."The laurel grove so begun has thriven in a marvelous way..."

From this time, all the Caesars appeared in triumph & held a laurel branch from the original tree in his hand and wore laurel wreath upon his head-and planted the branch. Pliny the Elder

detail from Vermeer's The Art of Painting
close up of Clio, Muse of History

Portrait of a Woman Wearing a Laurel Wreath

Rosalba Giovanna Carriera

Da Vinci's Wreath of Laurel, Palm and Juniper

Dante Alighieri
by Sandro Botticelli

try one of Livia's laurels on.

"Nod to ancient elegance in Louis Mariette's detailed headbands. Take inspiration from the classics and pair it with a draped maxi dress for the ultimate in Grecian glamour." from net a porter

** ** Byron's Wreath of Laurel photograph from (here) and Patrick Hunt (here)


  1. Love laurel leaves...particularly carved (wooden frames...).Glad you visited...sorry to say that sweet little book cover sold for @ $400.

  2. Such a beautiful post. And now, my dear...you may rest on your laurels...!

  3. little-

    This is such a fabulous post--I will have to rest before taking a second and third glance.
    The Byron wreath, the gold, the etchings, the concept, the lives, the portraits--thank you so much for such a passionate and allusive post...very great.

    cheers and a million thanks, www.thestylesaloniste.com

  4. Janet- thank you and don't mind if I do.
    Trouvais- so do I.
    DDS- You are to kind and Very Great too.

  5. Yes, the laurels go to you for a divine post. Thanks you aesthete, you!.



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