Fonte Ciane in Syracuse, Italy


According to Ancient Greek-Sicilian mythology, the Fonte Ciane was the location at which Hades entered the underworld with his stolen bride Persephone, daughter of the grain goddess Demeter. As the Roman author Ovid recounts, Ciane—a water nymph and companion to Persephone—opposed the rape and attempted to prevent Hades from absconding with his unwilling bride. When her rhetoric failed to persuade the God of the underworld, the nymph Ciane was overcome with grief and dissolved into tears, creating the azure lake that is still accessible to this day. 

 

Diodorus Siculus’ The Library of History states that Hercules instituted worship rites for the Goddesses at this site, and Gelon constructed a temple in their honour. Archaeologists have searched for the remains of this temple for over one hundred years, to no avail. 

 

The surrounding limestone area is littered with Bronze Age tombs. The grave goods from these tombs are displayed in the Museo Archeologico Regionale Paolo Orsi, and are culturally significant as they attest to contact with Mycenaean Greeks. 

 

The Fonte Ciane is also home to naturally growing papyrus—the only spot in Europe where it grows freely. The introduction of this papyrus was most likely a gift from Ptolemy II Philadelphus to Hiero II of Syracuse.  

 

 





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