Goldery Star

The nymph Arethusa (or Aretusa) and her myth are central to the ancient history and culture of Siracusa, Sicily. So much so, that her image, surrounded by dolphins, is featured on the ancient coins of the city–from 415-400 BCE! This coin, which I photographed through a magnifying glass, may be seen in the newly opened…

Persephone’s Guidance 

As the seasons change where I live in the northeastern United States, and the days are darker longer, I turn to Persephone for assistance during the transition to winter. Part of the “Queen of the Underworld’s” responsibilities, once she descends into Hades each autumn, is the role of psychopomp–a guide for new souls crossing over;…

Sicily’s Modest Venus

Found in the Acradina quarter of Siracusa in 1804, the Venus Landolina is named for the archeologist, Saverio Landolina (1743-1814), who discovered the statue. Made from Greek marble in the 2nd century AD, the Roman era work is a copy of a Greek era work from the 2nd century BC. Because it is an unclothed…

Look History in the Eyes

This theatrical mask (with wig originally fixed to the holes) from the beginning of the 5th century BC is on display at the archaeological museum in Siracusa, the Museo Orsi. This and thousands of other artifacts in this outstanding museum tell Sicily’s 3000 years of human history.

Bronze Champion

During antiquity, bronze was not a material that sculptors in Sicily used often, so when I come across a bronze statuette like this one of an athlete in Siracusa’s Museo Orsi, I take note. This statuette is from c. 460 B.C., and according to the information in the museum, it is called “The Youth (Ephebe)…

Ancient Enthroned Goddess

During the second half of the 6th century B.C., indigenous peoples of Sicily were beginning to mingle more with the Greek colonists. Evidence of this can be seen in artwork such as this terracotta enthroned goddess, which once had a child in her lap. Found near Grammichele, historians recognize this work as being created by…

An Offering to the Goddess

This terracotta figure from Siracusa’s archaeological museum is one of hundreds of examples of statuettes found around the island of Ortigia that is attributed to the cult of Demeter and Kore (Persephone). I find this divine figure especially interesting because more recent images of Santa Lucia, the patron saint of Siracusa who is celebrated in…

Mother Goddess

During our tour these past days, we spent a provoking morning in Siracusa, first at the archaeological park, and then at one of Europe’s best archaeological museums, the Museo Archeologico Orsi. Pictured here is one of the museum’s star pieces, a “Mother Goddess,” dated to be from 550 BC and made of local limestone. Found…