The painting is set in an orange grove on a
meadow of flowers, it contains eight adult figures placed along the length of
the picture. The orange trees stand erect but above the head of Venus, they bend to form an arch framing the Goddess. Another tree on the far
right bends echoing the body shapes of Zephyrus, God of Winds and the nymph
Chloris. The picture celebrates the arrival of spring and is filled with mythological symbolism.
Venus, Goddess of Love, is in the centre of the orange grove, on her left Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Spring, appears clad in garlands of flowers. Next to Flora is the nymph Chloris, she is pursued by Zephyrus, God of Wind, who has a burning passion for her. The Roman poet Ovid describes Chloris as transforming into Flora, Goddess of Flowers, "Once I was Chloris, who am now called Flora" and so symbolising the beginning of spring. Botticelli has placed both figures side by side within the same painting.
On the right of Venus are The three Graces, female companions of the Love Goddess who perform their dance at the onset of spring. Next to the Graces stands Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, who inspects the orange grove and protects the garden from intruders. In Classical mythology Mercury has the winged shoes
of the messenger and holds a staff in his right hand which he uses to separate
two fighting snakes, the two snakes then wind themselves around the staff which
is thereafter seen as a symbol of peace. In the Primavera Mercury uses the
staff to drive away some clouds, therefore, maintaining the tranquillity within
Floating overhead at the centre of the picture is Amor, the son of Venus, he is blindfolded as he shoots his arrows of love, their flaming tips certain to intensify the emotion of love in whoever they strike.
The primary source for the picture comes from a poem, "De Rerum Natura", by the classical poet and philosopher Lucretius. This and the "Fasti", Ovid's Roman calendar, provided the inspiration for Botticelli's Painting.