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Oebalio de vulnere, from the wound of Hyacinthus, son of Oebalus, beloved by Apollo, who accidentally killed him with the discus. See X. 183-214, where, as here, Ovid combines the two legends as to the flower. Apollo says to the dying Hyacinthus: “flosque novus scripto gemitus imitabere nostros. tempus et illud erit, quo se fortissimus heros addat in hunc florem, folioque legatur eodem. ipse suos gemitus foliis inscribit, et AI AI flos habet inscriptum.

The double sign (littera) is taken to represent first the lament over Hyacinthus (“αἰαῖ”), secondly the initial letters of the name of Ajax. As to the identity of the flower there is much dispute. Some have maintained that it is the Blue Flag (Iris Germanica), others that it is a variety of the Corn Flag, such as the one called Gladiolus Byzantinus, rose-purple in colour. Ovid, whom Keightley calls ‘a more accurate observer than Virgil,’ says that it resembled a white lily except in colour, and it has been identified by Martyn, whom Keightley follows, with Lilium Martagon, or Turk's Cap Lily. “Daubeny, who examines the question what the flower was at some length (Roman Husbandry, pp. 236-8), concludes ‘that the term “ὑάκινθος” was in general applied to some plant of the lily tribe; but that the poets confounded with this the larkspur (Delphinium Ajacis l.), which has upon it the markings alluded to (AI AI); and that the name Hyacinth was given in the first instance to the plant which most distinctly exhibited them.’” (Ellis on Cat. LXI. 89, where is mentioned a figure of the flower found in the Vienna MS. of Dioscorides). See Appendix.

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