Sicilian Mythology: Acis and Galatea

Discover the myth of ancient Sicily

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In Sicily, a legend is often told about the love triangle of Polyphemus, Acis and Galatea, that is, the protagonists of one of the most fascinating legends of Sicilian mythology, known above all through the poetic works of Ovid in his “Metamorphoses“.

The story is a mix of love and tragedy, set in ancient Sicily.

The story has also been a source of inspiration for numerous other works of art, literature and music over the centuries. Among these, the pastoral drama “Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus” by the composer Georg Friedrich Händel, and the cantata “Acis and Galatea” by the same composer, without forgetting the Spanish baroque poetry of Luís de Góngora (1612).

(C) Pixabay

The legend tells the love story of the shepherd Acis and the nymph Galatea. Madly in love with each other, they spent their days together, enjoying each other’s in the fields and beaches of Sicily.

Polyphemus, also in love with Galatea, was jealous and furious at the love that the nymph felt for Acis. Unable to bear to see Galatea with another, Polyphemus decided to eliminate his rival, killing him.

One day while Acis and Galatea were at the Riviera dei Ciclopi, Polyphemus, in the grip of jealousy, threw a huge rock made in lava stone forward Acis who was killed. Galatea, desperate and heartbroken, begged the gods to do something for her beloved.

The gods, moved by compassion for Galatea’s eternal love, transformed Aci’s blood into a river that took the name with Aci the River. Today the river flows in Sicily, near the city of Acireale.

This explains why in the Catania area there are 9 towns with the prefix Aci, that’s where Aci’s blood flows.

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