is Ros-marinus (seadew), and is said to be “useful in
love-making.” The reason is this: Both Venus, the love-goddess, and
Rosemary or sea-dew, were offspring of the sea; and as Love is
Beauty's son, Rosemary is his nearest relative.
The sea his mother Venus came on;
And hence some reverend men approve
Of rosemary in making love.
Butler: Hudibras, pt. ii. c. 1.
Rosemary, an emblem of remembrance.
Thus Ophelia says, “There's rosemary, that's for remembrance.” According to ancient tradition, this herb strengthens the memory. As
Hungary water, it was once very extensively taken to quiet the nerves.
It was much used in weddings, and to wear rosemary in ancient times was
as significant of a wedding as to wear a white favour. When the Nurse
in Romeo and Juliet
asks, “Doth not rosemary and Romeo begin
both with a [i.e.
one] letter?” she refers to these emblematical
characteristics of the herb. In the language of flowers it means “Fidelity in love.”
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894