Crocus (mythology)

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In Classical mythology, Crocus (Greek: Κρόκος) was a mortal youth who, because he was unhappy with his love affair with the nymph Smilax, was turned by the gods into a plant bearing his name, the crocus (saffron). Smilax is believed to have been given a similar fate and transformed into bindweed.[1][2][3]

In another variation of the myth, Crocus was said to be a companion of Hermes and was accidentally killed by the god in a game of discus. Hermes was so distraught at this that he transformed Crocus' body into a flower.[4] The myth is similar to that of Apollon and Hyacinthus, and may indeed be a variation thereof.

In his translation of Nonnos' Dionysiaca, W.H.D. Rouse describes the tale of Crocus as being from the late Classical period and little-known.[5]


  1. ^ Ovid, Metamorphoses, 4. 283
  2. ^ Nonnus, Dionysiaca, 12. 86
  3. ^ Servius on Virgil's Georgics, 4. 182
  4. ^ Galenus, De constitutione artis medicae, 9. 4. (Corpus medicorum Graecorum, 13. p. 269)
  5. ^ In: Nonnos, Dionysiaca. With an English translation by W. H. D. Rouse. Volume I, books I - XV. Cambridge - Massachusetts, Harvard University Press, London, William Heinemann Ltd, 1940, p. 404