THE LEGEND OF THE DELPHINIUM
The name of this flower comes from the Greek word delphis meaning dolphin, due to the shape of the back of the flower which resembles the bottle-like nose of a dolphin.
In some countries where the flower is thought to resemble a lark's foot its common name is larkspur.
According to legend, this flower is associated to the War of Troy. At a certain moment during the war, Ajax fought in single combat against Hector; there was no winner, and the two warriors exchanged gifts:
Hector gave Ajax his sword and Ajax gave Hector his belt.
After Achilles was killed, his mother requested that her son's armour be given to the most heroic Greek warrior. Ajax thought that the armour should have been his; but to his dismay, it was given to Ulysses.
Ajax went mad and tried to kill Ulysses and other Greeks. Athena was called to intervene and made him see Greeks where there were really cattle.
When Ajax recovered, he was mortified by his deeds and so killed himself using the sword Hector had given him. And small blue delphiniums began to grow from the blood that fell to the ground!
In the language of flowers, blue delphiniums are symbol of open heart and ardent attachment, but rose delphiniums symbolize lightness and swiftness.
The seeds of this plant, in particular of the Delphinium staphisagria species, are highly toxic, and are only used as a parasiticide to kill lice and similar human parasites.
If you have children, avoid planting this flower in your garden for the sake of them.
© Dulce Rodrigues
The suicide of Ajax (from a calyx-krater, 400–350 BC, of the Etruscan city of Vulci)