Siracusa’s Myth of Aretusa

This stunning Fontana di Diana in Ortigia, Siracusa that tells the story of the Nereid-water nymph Aretusa and her protector, the goddess Artemis/Diana.

One day while hunting in the forest in Greece, Aretusa decided to take a refreshing swim in a stream. While in the water, she felt something move beneath her. It was the river god Alfeo (Alpheus in English). During the encounter, Alfeo became smitten with Aretusa. Aretusa, however, fled, shunning Alfeo, who proceeded to chase the her.

Being a river, Alfeo’s endurance outlasted Aretusa’s flight. Exhausted, Aretusa called to the goddess of the hunt, Artemis, for help. Artemis responded by transforming Aretusa into a fresh-water spring–a spring that flowed via an underground channel from Greece under the Ionian Sea to Sicily, where she emerges in Ortigia. Well, Alfeo, being water too, seeking his love, merged with the spring Aretusa. So, the two are eternally intertwined. Legend is that if you throw flowers into the Alfeios River in Greece, they will eventually emerge at the Fonte Aretusa (a spring you’ll find on the other side of Ortigia).

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