The iris is represented in Greek mythology. Iris was the goddess of the rainbow and a messenger for Zeus and Hera, and many believe that the flower is named after her. She carried messages from heaven to earth on the arc of the rainbow, and was a companion to female souls on the way to heaven. To this day, Greeks plant purple irises on women’s graves so that Iris will guide them to their resting place in heaven.
The iris commonly means wisdom, hope, trust, and valor. It can be found in a variety of temperate zones around the world, as such, its meanings have been adapted to fit various cultures. During the 16th century BC, irises were introduced to Egypt from Syria, and stylized versions of these flowers began to decorate the scepters of pharaohs as representations of victory and power. The iris inspired the fleur-de-lis, a decorative symbol used by French royalty. It originated in the Middle Ages. During this time the fleur-de-lis became tied to the French Monarchy, and appeared on their coat of arms, coins, and shields. Some believe that the three petals represented the three social orders: nobility, clergy, and peasants.