Have you ever heard of “Arethusa”? Don’t you think it sounds like Siracusa, the famous Sicilian city in the Southeastern coast of the island?
Sicily is a melting pot where cultures have been mixing with each other over time and the legends in the background enrich the magic of its fascinating scenery.
Let’s find out the legend behind the foundation of this enchanting city!
The story takes place in Syracuse, more specifically in the beautiful island of Ortygia.
The island is named after a Greek nymph sacred to Artemis, the goddess of hunting. Because of her beauty, a lot of men felt in love with Arethusa and, instead of being pleased, Arethusa felt ashamed.
One day, after a hunting race in the woods with other nymphs, while she was relaxing in a river, the water began to ripple and so Arethusa, frightened of it, ran away. In that moment the river Alpheus turned into a boy, who started to run after her.
The tired nymph asked for help to Artemis who firstly hid her in a dense fog so that Alpheus could not see her and then, she was turned into water in a place far from Greece: Ortygia.
Alpheus, thanks to Zeus, transformed into a river again which, crossing underground the whole Ionian Sea, flowed into the “Great Harbour of Syracuse”, eventually reaching his beloved.
This myth has become famous all over the world thanks to the references made in by many authors like Virgil, Homer and Ovid.
If you go to Ortygia, in fact, near the fountain you can read some Virgil’s lines and admire a wonderful sculpture showing Alpheus and Arethusa. Now you have one more reason to come and discover the beauties of Sicily!