Myths and legends of Sicily

siracusa fonte aretusa


the most famous myth of Syracuse is that of the nymph Arethusa. The nymph, following Artemide, running free in the woods of the Peloponnese, was seen by young Alpheus who fell in love with her. But Arethusa did not return his feelings, indeed shrank from him, until tired of his insistence he asked for help to Artemis. The Goddess enfolded her in a thick cloud dissolving the young into a source of the Ortigia lido. Alpheus then asked for help to the gods, who turned it into a river springing from Greece and traveling around the Ionian Sea joined his beloved source. The Fountain of Arethusa is still one of the major tourist attractions of the island of Ortigia, in Syracuse. The Alpheus legend derives from the eponymous river of the Peloponnese, in Greece, and a source of fresh water (locally called Eye of Zillica) that flows into the Great Harbour of Syracuse not far from the Fountain of Arethusa.


Ciane e Anapo

siracusa ciane e anapo

Persephone, daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of vegetation and agriculture, was busy picking flowers with some nymphs at the shores of Lake Pergusa (near Enna). Suddenly, from his underground kingdom emerged out of Hades, in love with the girl, who does not waste time in wooing and especially to avoid asking the hand of Persephone to his brother Zeus, he decided to kidnap her. The nymph Ciane was reacting to the kidnapping clinging to the chariot of Hades in a desperate attempt to restrain him. God angry, beat her with his scepter, transforming it into a double source from the water color blue (cyanos in Greek means precisely blue). The young Anapo, in love with the nymph Ciane showy liquefy girlfriend, he did change too in the river that even today, at the end of its route unites its waters with those of the Ciane River, before flowing together in the Grand Harbour of Syracuse. A second version of the myth reports that Cianippo had made sacrifices to all the gods except to Bacchus, and this god to punish him drunk so that raped his daughter Cyane. But his daughter during intercourse could get him a ring and gave it to the nurse to make him understand, the next day, about who had abused. By coincidence, shortly after an epidemic of plague and consulted the oracle these asserted that the only way to appease him was the baddest man's sacrifice in the city. Cyane then grabbed her by the hair the father and killed him with a knife, and then commit suicide itself. This sacrifice was accomplished in place of Ciane source. So touched Persephone gathered the tears of the young Ciane and created the source.


One Hundred Horses Chestnut

Sant'alfio castagno dei cento cavalli

It is told that a queen, with the following hundred knights and dames was surprised by a storm during a hunting trip, near the tree, and right under the branches found shelter with all large following. The storm continued until the evening, so the queen passed under the branches of the chestnut tree the night in the company, they say, of one or more lovers among the knights his entourage. no one knows what might be the queen, according to some it would be Joan of Aragon, according to others Joanna I of Anjou and that's how the legend will be connected to the insurrection of the Vespers (XIV-XV century). But it's all, most likely, the result of simple popular imagination. For example the Queen Joanna of Anjou, although known for some debauchery in love affairs, it is almost certain that he was never in Sicily.


The legend of Sicily


la leggenda del nome sicilia

A legend says that a beautiful Lebanese princess, whose name was precisely Sicily; It foretold by an oracle, that the fulfillment of his fifteenth year of life, would have to leave, alone and in a boat, his homeland, and that if he had not, it would end in the jaws of "Greek-east "- the monster-term" Greek-east "is nothing but the Byzantine empire, whose domination of the bad memories left in Sicily - which would appear beneath the monstrous shapes of a cat and would have devoured. To ward off the beautiful princess this terrible fate, upon the completion of the fifteenth year of age his parents, weeping and desperate with pain, put her in a boat, and entrusted it to the waves. He spent three months at the mercy of the waves and when now the poor Sicily believed that his fate would turn at the end, since he had no food and water, propelled by favorable winds landed on a beautiful beach, full of flowers and fruits, but completely deserted and lonely. The young princess was in despair and wept so much until he no longer had a tear to shed, that suddenly spring up beside her a beautiful young man, who gave her comfort and love. The young boy explained that the islanders had all died of plague, and that fate had chosen them to repopulate the earth with a stronger and gentle race, for which the island would be called with the name of Sicily. The cultural references of the legend, according Salamone Marino and Giuseppe Pitre, reflecting the ancient tale of Egesta that Hippothous abandoned by her father on a boat was entrusted to the waves, why not become prey to the horrible sea monster sent by Neptune. Propelled by favorable winds, it landed in Sicily where he married the river god Crìniso, with whom she had two children Alcestis hero and Eolo



The Rape of Proserpina

il ratto di proserpina

Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the goddess of vegetation and agriculture, is abducted by Hades, god of the underworld, who fell in love with her, which emerges from the grave by a cave located in Pergusa Lake near Enna, where according to the myth of Proserpina it was busy picking flowers. One day the god seizes the girl in his chariot, while the girls that attended desperately trying to hold her back. Proserpina struggle, but now the horses are already crossing the threshold of the underworld. Her mother Demeter heard the cry of the daughter, frantically tried for nine days and nine nights, lighting his way with two pine trees lit in the crater of Etna. Finally, Elio learned from (the sun) of the kidnapping, he decided not to climb into the sky until he had regained his daughter. In the absence of Demeter from his role, the earth began to be sterile and unproductive. Then Zeus, worried, after trying in vain to convince Hades to return Persephone to her mother, effected a compromise: Persephone would stay with the mother for eight months of the year (those in which the earth flourishes and gives to men all her riches) and Ade for another four months (and winter, when the goddess Demeter was sad and the land is barren and unproductive).



Scilla & Cariddi

Charybdis in Greek mythology was a sea monster. In principle, Charybdis was a woman, the daughter of Poseidon and Gea, dedicated to the robberies and famous for its voracity. One day he stole the oxen of Geryon to Heracles and ate some. Then Zeus glared by dropping it into the sea, which turned it into a monster which formed a marine vortex, able to swallow passing ships. Legend located at either side of the Strait of Messina, opposite the cavern of the monster Scylla. Ships turned onto the narrow were forced to pass close to one of the two monsters. In the stretch of sea vortices they are caused by the meeting of currents, but are not of major entities. According to the myth, the Argonauts were able to escape the danger represented by the two monsters, because guided by Thetis mother of Achilles, one of the Nereids.


The legend Colapesce

uomo pesce

Cola is of Messina and is the son of a fisherman from Punta Faro. Cola has a great passion for the sea. also a lover of fish thrown back into the sea all that his father fishing in order to allow them to live. Cursed by mother exasperated by his behavior, Cola turns into fish. The boy, who changed his name to Colapesce always live longer at sea and on the rare occasions that returns to Earth tells the wonders he sees. Become a good informant for the sailors who ask news to avoid the storms and also a good courier seen who can swim very well.  It was appointed by Captain diver of Messina.  His fame is increasing day by day and even the King of Sicily Frederick II wants to know and experiment with its capacity. At their meeting, the King throws a golden cup into the sea, and asked the boy to bring it back. Upon returning Colapesce tells the seascape which saw the king and gave him the cup. The King decides to throw overboard his crown and the guy takes two days and two nights to find her. On his return he tells the King he saw that Sicily is based on three pillars, a very solid, the second and the third damaged creaky because of a magical fire that would not turn off. The King's curiosity increases again and decides to throw a ring into the water and then ask the boy to bring it back. Colapesce is hesitant, but still decided to jump into the water, saying to people that if they saw back to the surface of the lentils and the ring, he would no longer be climbed. After several days the lentils and the ring burning went up to the surface but not the boy, and the King saw that the fire magic really existed and that Colapesce was left on the seabed to support the corroded column.