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Nymphs and Springs in Syracuse: Between Greece and Sicily

Abstract : The paper will examine the examples of Arethusa and Kyane, two springs situated in Syracusan territory that knew some fame in antiquity. According to legend, the first one, Arethusa, a nymph in the retinue of Artemis, was a Peloponnesian native who crossed the seas to escape the Olympian Alpheius River’s lust. Once aground on Ortygia, later the heart of the Corinthian colony of Syracuse, she was transformed into a spring by her patron goddess, and the river who followed her poured its waters into her streams, establishing an eternal link between the Greek motherland, and Sicily, land of Greek diaspora. For her part, Kyane was a native nymph who witnessed the abduction or rape of Kore by the god Hades, who punished her by changing her into a spring. Both were integrated into Greek cultural and religious heritage and have thus crossed the boundaries of their adopted island. As early as the end of the 6th century BCE, Arethusa is frequently mentioned in ancient literature, from Pindar, probably the first author to name her, down to Imperial Latin writers, and even their Byzantine successors. She is one of the most popular figures of ancient literature regarding nymphs. As both springs were undoubtedly places of worship, they were both instruments of fertility of the land and of Syracusan women. The paper will highlight the material and symbolic role they play in Syracusan culture, and in relationships between motherland and colony, as well as the Hellenic koine.
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Submitted on : Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 9:17:43 PM
Last modification on : Saturday, January 30, 2021 - 3:25:36 AM

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  • HAL Id : hal-03089220, version 1

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Sophie Bouffier. Nymphs and Springs in Syracuse: Between Greece and Sicily. B.A. Robinson; S. Bouffier. Ancient Waterlands, PUP, pp.159-181, 2019, Archéologies méditerranéennes, 9791032002391. ⟨hal-03089220⟩

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