This paper aims to detect the role of the Nymphs and of“nymphal” imagery at Syracuse. Although the coins of Syracuseregularly depicted, from late 6th to late 4th century B.C.,the local Nymph Arethousa, the importance of such a subjectin cult and art is underestimated. As a matter of fact, the identificationof the Nymphs through iconographic criteria is somewhatdifficult, apart some triadic representations on votive Hellenisticpinakes. The female head antefixes, which were arguedto depict the Nymphs and to decorate the roofs of small cultbuildings of “major” deities (like Artemis or Kore-Persephone,associated with the Nymphs in local narratives), and severalhigh-quality artifacts from the Late Archaic period onward,between which the Arethousa coins and the “Sikeliote” terracottabusts can give us a glimpse of the pervasiveness of the“nymphal” imagery in official, religious and domestic contexts.To that a literary testimony (Timaeus ap. Athen. VI, 250a) hasto be related, according to which in Sicily (and at Syracuse) wascustomary to make sacrifices to the Nymphs “kata tas oikias”,dancing around their agalmata and spending the night in adrunken condition. The “urban” and “domestic” dimension ofNymphs’ cult can be connected to the deep transformations ofthe civic body during 5th and 4th century, which enhance theimportance of nuptial ties and rituals in the “construction” ofthe fabric of the city, while from the Archaic age the cults ofsuch deities answered the needs of the colonists and the phenomenaof interaction with the natives. During the Hellenisticperiod the Nymphs seem to return to their “canonic” environmentand patterns of worship; in the town itself, they are insertedin the rocky landscape artificially reshaped in the hugeHieronian sanctuaries of the Neapolis, where from mid 2ndcentury B.C. a series of “Rhodian” statuettes of Nymphs and afine a relief with dancing Nymphs were dedicated.
|Numero di pagine||44|
|Rivista||ARCHIVIO STORICO SIRACUSANO|
|Volume||s. IV n. IV, XLVII, 2012|
|Stato di pubblicazione||Published - 2015|