The ancient Greeks associated the plant with death as it was thought to spring from the blood of Archemorus, who’s name is “forerunner of death”. In Homer’s writings it is fed to chariot horses because it was though to make them more fleet of foot. In athletic contests the victors crown’s contained Parsley in honor of the deceased.
The phrase “In need of Parsley” meant a person was very ill and unlikely to live.
They did not serve it as the dinner table.
It was frequently grown as a border with Rue, hence “Oh, we are only at the Parsley and Rue” was used to refer to a job that was in the contemplation stages, but not yet acted upon.
The Romans also did not eat it, but used it in garlands during feasts as it was thought to prevent intoxication. It was kept away from nursing mothers as it was thought to cause epilepsy in babies.
Due to its slow germination, it was believed that the seed goes to the devil and back 9 times before germination. The ungerminated seeds were kept by the Devil. It was also thought that it only grew in gardens where the woman was “master of the house”.
In Roman weddings, it was worn in wreathes to protect against evil spirits.
In English folklore, it is also associated with death. The phrase “Welsh Parsley is a good physic” refers to the gallows rope as “Welsh Parsley”. In southern regions it was thought that in gardens where it was grown there would be a death before the year ended. And, it was thought that if someone cut parsley they would be “crossed in love”.
In Devonshire, it was believed that if you transplanted parsley it would offend the “garden Genius, who presides over the beds, and those that transplanted it would be punished within the year.
In Hampshire peasants believe giving it away would bring bad luck, but in Suffolk regions that planting it on good Friday would double the rate of germination.
Pliny (23-79 AD) recommended it for “ill flesh” and used it in broth and sauces.
The Tudors thought it was a cure for baldness., and was considered to be an antidote for poison because it counted acted the strong smell of garlic.