The lily was dedicated to the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus. Legend has it that when Zeus fathered Hercules with the mortal woman Alceme, he wished his son to partake more fully of divinity. To this end he had the baby brought to Hera after he drugged her to sleep. He had the baby placed at her breast and Hercules nursed. Hera awoke in horrified surprise and flung the baby from her. Some of her milk gushed across the heavens and formed the milky way. A few drops fell to earth and from those drops sprang the first lilies.
Lilies have been associated with many ancient myths, and pictures of lilies were discovered in a villa in Crete, dating back to the Minoan Period, about 1580 B.C.
Roman legend has it that when Venus rose from the sea-foam she saw a lily and she became filled with jealous envy at the whiteness and beauty of it.
Seeing it as a rival to her own beauty she caused a huge and monstrous pistil to spring from the lily's snow-white center. This myth accounts for the the lily being associated with Venus and the Satyrs who are the personification of lustful ardor.
Lilies are also a symbol of death, and at one time lilies were placed on the graves of young innocents. The lily has no true medicinal value although at one time it was thought to posses certain medicinal virtues. It was thought to have magical properties and there were thousands of recipes in Elizabethan times for the use of lilies in the treatment of fever or as a unguent containing lily root for cleaning wounds,burns and sores. as well as relieving rheumatic and arthritic symptoms.