This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V24", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
Towards the end of the Republic in Rome, to which already almost the whole of the then known world was subject, luxury was at its height. The riches extorted from the subjugated nations were squandered in the most foolish way. There was no knowing what undertakings a man with money might not begin. The poor nightingales must give up their tongues to furnish a ragout for a Roman gourmand. A Roman fine gentleman injured his standing if he sat before his guests at the sea, sea fish, and in the interior of the coun try, fresh-water fish. At immense cost sea fish had to be provided here, and fresh-water fish there. Not less foolish was the custom of sleeping on rose leaves - the couches were heaped several feet high with rose leaves. Even Cicero must sleep on roses and violets. Propertius must even be buried in them, for in that case, as he sings, the earth would lie lightly on him. An effeminate Roman complains of the folded rose leaves on his couch hurting him. The Propraetor Verres in Sicily was carried about in a litter resting on cushions filled with rose leaves and a bouquet of roses had to be carried before him. The supply of roses at Rome must at that time have been very great. Paestum sent most, and after it Egypt, where the roses of Cyrrhene at that time were renowned.
Great vessels came to Rome, which were only laden with roses.
This rose mania, for by no other name can one call it, contributed not a little to raise the position of the gardener in Rome. - Carl Koch.