Friday, August 12, 2016

THE SIREN PARTHENOPE

The origins of the city of Naples, maritima urbs, as Tito Livio referred to it, are firmly rooted in the myth of the Siren Parthenope.  The story begins on the island of Megaride where, according to legend, the original nucleus of the city called Parthenope originated. According to ancient sources, this small settlement lay near the tomb of the young siren who had lived in the seas around the Sorrento peninsula.
Legend has it that Parthenope, devastated at her inability to make Ulysses fall in love with her on his way back from Troy, was washed up on Megaride. It was only later that the first Greeks settled there.
Strabone and Pliny the Elder referred to the existence of the virgin Siren’s tomb in Naples, although it was never found. On the other hand, the poet Giovanni Boccaccio in his Ninfale d’Ameto, recalls how her tomb was found by the Cumaeans. It is also believed that Boccaccio wrote the legend about the love affair between the river Sebeto and the sweet Siren who is depicted, according to medieval tradition as a kind of animal, half woman and half fish.