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Olive OLIVUM Roman empire symbol

Olive Olivum


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Description of Olive Olivum

The ancient Romans viewed the olive tree as a symbol packed with multiple, profound meanings. Prized and revered for its longevity, resistance and, most importantly, its fruit, olive trees are in fact native to the Mediterranean region, making it a solid national symbol.

Olive trees and their fruits became deeply entangled within Roman culture, adapted into nutrition, hygiene and even ceremonial and religious purposes. Associated with peace, prosperity and divine protection, the olive tree wove itself naturally throughout daily Roman life, appearing across ancient art, politics and religion.

The olive tree was closely tied to Minerva, the goddess of war, wisdom and the arts. Its link with Minerva’s facets of peace and prosperity were so deeply entrenched that the olive tree often appeared as a symbol of peace and harmony.

During religious ceremonies, olive leaves were woven into garlands to decorate altars and statues whilst symbolizing divine protection and purity. Olive wreaths would also be awarded as prizes to the winners of sports games, representing victory and honour.

The symbolisms behind the olive tree encompass harmony and abundance, stemming into the perks of prosperity, fertility and wealth. Its silvery leaves epitomised the Roman’s allure towards rebirth and vitality, leading olive branches to appear on various coins and coats of arms.

The symbolisms of the olive tree also crossed over into Roman politics. During war and conflict, the offering of an olive branch symbolized a gesture of peace and reconciliation between the conflicting parties; a sentiment so poignant that it is still reflected today in modern political iconography, such as the United Nations logo.

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