A crown of laurels is a wreath or garland of laurel leaves worn in ancient Greek and Roman times as a symbol of victory or status. The laurel tree was sacred to the god Apollo, and a wreath of laurel leaves was given as the prize at the Pythian games, a forerunner of the modern Olympic games held in honor of Apollo.
The symbolic importance of the laurel tree has been passed down to modern times in a number of ways. The expression "resting on his laurels" is commonly used to describe a person who is so satisfied with his past achievements that he is no longer trying to accomplish anything new. It is also the source of the word "baccalaureate," indicating academic achievement. The terms "poet laureate" and "Nobel laureate" also derive directly from the practice of bestowing a laurel garland for a victory or a notable achievement. The laurel tree, also known a bay laurel, was very important to the ancient Greeks. It is the source of bay leaves, a popular herb commonly used for seasoning soups and sauces. Several traditional medicines are made from bay laurel extract, and the essential oil of bay laurel is reputed to relieve arthritis and rheumatism.