''Sub rosa'' (
New Latin (also called Neo-Latin or Modern Latin) is the revival of Literary Latin used in original, scholarly, and scientific works since about 1500. Modern scholarly and technical nomenclature, such as in zoological and botanical taxonomy ...
for "under the rose") denotes secrecy or confidentiality. The
A rose is either a woody perennial flowering plant of the genus ''Rosa'' (), in the family Rosaceae (), or the flower it bears. There are over three hundred species and tens of thousands of cultivars. They form a group of plants that can be e ...
has an ancient history as a symbol of secrecy.
In Classical antiquity, the Hellenistic period covers the time in Mediterranean history after Classical Greece, between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire, as signified by the Battle of Actium i ...
Roman mythology is the body of myths of ancient Rome as represented in the literature and visual arts of the Romans. One of a wide variety of genres of Roman folklore, ''Roman mythology'' may also refer to the modern study of these represent ...
, roses were associated with secrecy because
In classical mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupīdō , meaning "passionate desire") is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the god of war Mars. He is also known in ...
gave a rose to
Harpocrates ( grc, Ἁρποκράτης, Phoenician: 𐤇𐤓𐤐𐤊𐤓𐤈, romanized: ḥrpkrṭ, ''harpokrates'') was the god of silence, secrets and confidentiality in the Hellenistic religion developed in Ptolemaic Alexandria (and also ...
(the Hellenistic god of
Silence is the absence of ambient audible sound, the emission of sounds of such low intensity that they do not draw attention to themselves, or the state of having ceased to produce sounds; this latter sense can be extended to apply to the ces ...
) so that he would not reveal the secrets of
Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is sometimes called Earth's "sister" or "twin" planet as it is almost as large and has a similar composition. As an interior planet to Earth, Venus (like Mercury) appears in Earth's sky never fa ...
Banquet rooms were decorated with rose carvings, reportedly as a reminder that discussions in the rooms should be kept in confidence.
[ This was inherited in later ] Christian symbolism
Christian symbolism is the use of symbols, including archetypes, acts, artwork or events, by Christianity. It invests objects or actions with an inner meaning expressing Christian ideas.
The symbolism of the early Church was characterized by be ..., where roses were carved on confessionals to signify that the conversations would remain secret.
The phrase entered the German language
German ( ) is a West Germanic language mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and the Italian province of South Tyrol. It is a ... (''unter der Rose'') and, later, the English language
English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabitants of early medieval England. It is named after the Angles, one of the ancient Germanic people ..., both as a Latin loan phrase (at least as early as 1654) and in its English translation.
* Chatham House Rule
Latin words and phrases