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Fountain of Arethusa: Overall view of pond with water plants and retaining walls
Architecture Library, Hesburgh Libraries
A legend associates Arethusa to the origins of Syracuse: "One day Arethusa, searching refreshment from hunting, bathed in the river Alpheus whom, struck by love for the beautiful nymph, took on human form to pursue her. In order to protect Arethusa, Artemis turned her into a spring, flowing undergound to emerge on the islet of Ortygia". The head of Arethusa, surrounded by darting dolphins, is a recurrent motif on the coins minted in Syracuse. The "fountain" is a freshwater spring, developed into a site (a lagoon or pond) from Greek times. The fountain is mentioned in a number of poems, including John Milton's Lycidas and Alexander Pope's The Dunciad.