The olive branch has symbolized peace since before words were written, thousands of years BC. The ancient tale tells us that Poseidon, the god of the sea, and Athena, the goddess of wisdom, competed in a contest for a city. The one who could produce the gift most useful to mortals would win. Poseidon offered the horse, for its use in warfare. Athena offered the olive tree, for its use as food; and, as oil for light and for cleansing. The gods judged Athena’s gift more useful and awarded her the city, Athens. Then in ancient Roman wars, the olive branch would be carried like a white flag by the side surrendering for peace.
The dove has symbolized love since the days of early Greece and Rome, some 800 years BC. It was the sacred animal of the Greek and Roman goddesses of love, Aphrodite and Venus. Because doves mate for life, build their nests together, and raise their young together, to the early Greeks and Romans, doves represented love and devotion and care for the family.
The V sign hand gesture was established to represent victory during the Second World War, in the 1940s. The end of war meant peace, so during the 1960s in the USA, activists against the Vietnam War adopted the gesture as a sign of peace.
Our modern Peace Symbol comes from the art of using two flags held in various positions to communicate letters of the alphabet across a distance. The two flags held out and downward represent the letter N. The two held one straight up and one straight down represent the letter D. In 1958, an artist put the two together to represent Nuclear Disarmament; and, to evoke a human figure standing with arms down, palms out, empty of weapons, to indicate peacefulness.
Peace to you. Peace to all enemies. Peace to our children and theirs. Peace to the world.