Nymph Arethusa, a favorite maid of goddess Artemis escaped unwanted love of Alpheus taking the form of spring waters;after millennia she is still “emptying” into sacred pond in Syracuse waiting for true love.....
The fountain of Diana standing at the most prestigious place in Syracuse – Plaza of Archimedes, illustrates the myth of a nymph Arethusa – a maid of the goddess Artemis (Roman’s Diana).
One day when bathing in a river on the Peloponnese Peninsula (Greece), she was spotted by god Alpheus. He instantly fell in love with the beautiful nymph. Unmoved by his feelings, Arethusa sought protection of Artemis. She transformed the young nymph into an underground spring flowing under the sea to re-emerge on the far-away island of Ortigia (BTW – all Greek nymphs were always young and irresistibly beautiful, but Arethusa was probably the most beautiful one “outliving” her companions under the popular name “Aretha”!).
Sacred pond and a new artistic vision of Arethusa escaping Alpheus
Above and below: Sacred spring waters
Arethusa Pond is certainly one of the most romantic places in Syracuse
Well, the trick did not work out well. Alpheus in turn was transformed by Zeus and in the form of river waters. In his new “incarnation” he followed Arethusa’s spring waters to Ortigia to mingle there with his beloved one. Due to the strong cult of goddess Artemis, the Arethusa spring became the sacred place in Syracuse. Proving that the true love is eternal, the spring still empties into the freshwater pool at the western shore of Ortigia. The bronze sculpture depicting the nymph Arethusa fleeing unwanted suitor Alpheus is placed next to the spring.
For some, the story may be romantic (well, who does not want to be eternally in love), for others it reflects sometime “tragic” reality of human life (rejected love). But for everybody the pool surrounded by high stone walls and overgrown with bunch of “gentle” papyruses is a charming place to seat by and contemplate the myth in silence….. The fact is that Arethusa’s Spring can be an inspiration for all of us, as it was for great poets and writers: Virgil, Ovid, André Gide, Gabriele D’Annunzio and others…
That certainly happened to the City Council of Syracuse when in 1906 they commissioned the project of personification of the myth of Arethusa in form of monumental fountain to the Italian sculptor Giulio Moschetti. Known as the Fountain of Diana (Fontana di Diana) or the Fountain of Arethusa - it dominates the Plaza of Archimedes.
Fountain of Diane and Arethusa: Piazza Archimedes
Goddess Diane (Artemis in Greek mythology) - Fountain at the center of Piazza Archimedes (Syracuse)
Fountain of Arethusa (also known as Fountain of Diane)
Triton on riding a Sea Horse
The goddess Diana (Artemis) takes the central position with the nymph Arethusa at her feet slipping down to blend with the water. Alpheus, standing next to Diana is watching in disbelief what is happening in front of his eyes…..
Tritons (sons of Poseidon – the mythological god of the sea) on seahorses seem to symbolize the “orderly” and peaceful transformation of Arethusa into water, while those riding Sea Monsters – the fear of unknown….
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