The most famous medieval romance, The Romance of the Rose, features a lover who sees, identifies, and pursues a perfect rose (a symbol of his beloved). Yet the lover first sees the rose not directly, but as a reflection in the water of the fabled "Fountain of Narcissus," where the mythic character Narcissus mistook his own image for another person. The romance slyly suggests that love is a form of self-regard and, perhaps too, that the human naming of flora is beset by vanity and error. How like an herbal the book-shaped fountain is in the above illustration of the Rose.
The Romance of the Rose, Fountain of Narcissus