The Spring of Arethusa, Ortigia, Siracusa
Coming into this trip with a previous knowledge of Sicily (Syracuse especially) via its ancient coinage, I was particularly excited to see the Spring of Arethusa. This deity is depicted on most (if not all) of Syracuse’s ancient money as the patron nymph of the city.
Arethusa, as the nymph of a fresh water spring, held special significance for the Corinthian colonists who founded Syracuse. Access to fresh water was (and still is) indubitably one of the foremost priorities of any new city, and according to the mythology of the Greeks, this spring acted as a link to home. According to the legend, Arethusa had a spring in Greece but was pursued by a male river god, so she ran from him and finally escaped upon arriving to Sicily. Thus, she (like the colonists) had roots to the motherland of Greece but had firmly established herself and was flourishing in this new land.
I was thrilled to see the spring which had held such significance for the ancients. It was one of those unforgettable moments where you come face to face with history and for a moment, and suddenly everything you’ve studied feels tangible again.