"Olive and laurel bind her golden hair:..."
See in text (Text of the Poem)
The “olive and laurel” which bind Columbia’s hair are references to the ceremonial wreaths used in classical Greek and Roman culture. The olive wreath, the kotinos, was used to celebrate winners of the Olympic games in ancient Greece. The laurel wreath, sported by the god Apollo, was used in both Greece and Rome to denote victories in numerous spheres: poetry, athletics, and military conquests. In this line, Wheatley draws heavily on the traditions of the classical world while symbolizing the complete excellence that characterizes Columbia.