Cornelia, Mother of Gracchi

Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi, by Noel Halle, 1779 (Musee Fabre).


As the year advances, it sometimes surprises busy people to realise that Mother’s Day rapidly approaches. The second Sunday in May inspires warm celebrations of motherhood in many parts of the world. Families take some time to express their love for the women who contribute so much to daily life. Millions of people share bouquets of flowers at this time, sending fresh roses, daisies or even a single mum to convey profound gratitude. They sometimes give other small gifts to mothers, too, as tokens of their esteem and undying affection.

One of the best ways of sharing Mother’s Day involves symbolism. A beautiful Mother’s Day story from the distant past illuminates this idea very well…

Over a century before the birth of Christ, the City of Rome developed a thriving cultural life. Many aristocratic Roman families enjoyed comfortable lifestyles, supported by the efforts of large numbers of poor Roman workers, labourers and slaves. During this period, two of the most influential reformers seeking to improve the working conditions of ordinary Romans by according them more civic rights were two brothers, Tiberius and Gaius Gracchi.

Their mother, Cornelia, often earned praise for the way she had raised them. After a happy marriage that produced 12 children, Cornelia had become a young widow when her high ranking husband passed away. She impressed the people of Rome favourably with her modest lifestyle and dress and her motherly devotion to her children. One day a wealthy Roman lady visiting Cornelia asked her why she wore no jewelry? Cornelia gestured towards her two young sons, Tiberius and Gaius. They approached her. Clasping each of them around the shoulders, she replied proudly to the visitor: “These are my jewels!”

The story of Cornelia’s love and pride in her children has been passed down to the modern era. Her children themselves during their lives reflected their mother’s attention and care. You can express the devotion you feel for your mother on Mother’s Day symbolically by giving gifts rich in sentiment and love. These gestures of affection do not need to be expensive to hold great power.

Beautiful flowers, a card and a small token of esteem, such as a box of candy or a dinner together help encapsulate strong emotions of affection and gratitude. Many families scattered across long distances still celebrate the ideals of motherhood at this time by sharing flower arrangements with one another, bridging the gap of miles with potent symbolism. The way you choose to celebrate Mother’s Day remains very personal, of course, but the symbolic kind sentiments you express will endure forever.

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