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Persephone, also called Kore (“The maiden”), is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter. She becomes the queen of the underworld through her abduction by and subsequent marriage to Hades, the god of the underworld. She is the personification of vegetation, which shoots forth in spring and withdraws into the earth after harvest.
The city of Syracuse was founded by Corinthian settlers led by the Oikistes Archia in 734 BC, in the 5th century BC Syracuse enjoyed a period of expansion and prosperity under the tyrant Gelone ,it played a key role in the field of literature, science and philosophy of the ancient world, it played a leading role in the policy of conquests including the halting of Carthaginian expansion with the victory of Himera in 480 BC, Syracuse survived a two-year siege of the Athenian forces from 415 to 413 BC and still prospered under the Tyrant Dionysius in the 4th century BC when the city controlled most part of south Italy. In the 6th century A.D. Syracuse became part of the Roman Empire of the East, in the 7th century A.D. it was designated the capital of the entire Byzantine Empire, a situation that culminated shortly after more than five years with the assassination of Emperor Constant II and the return of central power in Constantinople.
PLATONE VISITS SIRACUSA
Plato visits Sicily on several occasions from 388 BC to 360 BC, initially driven by the desire to visit Mount Etna and its craters. Dionysius I the tyrant ,informed of his visit, invited him to court where the philosopher met the Syracusan nobleman Dione, a collaborator of Dionysius who became his disciple. when Plato attacked the tyranny with his words, provoking the wrath of the tyrant , it was Dione who saved the master by rushing him to Athens, although that journey ended with the enslavement of the philosopher to Egina.
In 367 BC, Plato returned to Sicily invited by Dione to educate his nephew Dionysius II new successor to the throne, with the aim of making him a king-philosopher; however, the political situation plummeted: Dione was exiled, Plato's reformation suitable for the establishment of the ideal state was nullified.
He last went to Syracuse in 361 BC with the aim of carrying out a peaceful mediation between Dionysius II and Dione, but he failed in his intent. He was able to return to Athens thanks to the intervention of the Pythagoreans of Taranto who interceded in his favor with the tyrant. Returning to his homeland, he witnessed from afar Dione's military expedition of 357 BC against the Syracuse tyranny.
It is claimed that the reminiscences of his travels had a significant cultural impact in his literary production: works such as the Symposium, the Laws and Dialogues on Atlantis, they would come from the experience of the Athenian philosopher in Sicily.
The biblical scholar Konstantin Von Tischendorf was intrigued by Greek mathematical marks visible on the schedule found in a Greek Orthodox library in Constantinople and took home a sheet (which is now in the Library of the University of Cambridge ). In 1899 the Greek scholar Papadopoulos-Kerameus produced a catalogue of library manuscripts that included a transcription of several lines of partially visible text below. After examining these lines Johan Ludvig Heiberg, the world authority on Archimedes, realized that it was a piece of a work by the Syracusan mathematician. When Heiberg studied the schedule in Constantinople in 1906, he confirmed that it included works by Archimedes that were believed to have been lost. Heiberg was allowed to take very detailed photographs of the pages of the schedule, producing transcripts published between 1910 and 1915 in a complete edition of Archimedes. Shortly after the original text of Archimedes in Byzantine Greek was translated into English by Thomas Little Heath. Before that, he was not well known among mathematicians, physicists or historians. The manuscript disappeared from the library during the Greek-Turkish War of 1919-1922.Between 1923 and 1930 it was purchased by Marie Louis Sirieix, a businessman who bought it illegally from a monk. The manuscript was then sold in 1998 by Christie's auction house for 2 million dollars to an anonymous buyer.
SYRACUSE CAPITAL OF THE BYZANTINE EMPIRE
Syracuse was chosen as the new capital and residence by Emperor Constant II, from 663 to 668, both for the great historical past of the city and for the strategic location: Sicily in fact occupied a privileged position between Italy and North Africa in which the imperial authority was threatened by Longobard and Arabs respectively. During the Syracuse period the emperor exerted a strong tax burden on the Byzantine regions of southern Italy without taking into account the ecclesiastical privileges, except those of the imperial court and the army, coming into conflict with Rome and religious authority. After losing the support of all his subjects a conspiractook place among the exponents of the Byzantine and Armenian aristocracy;Constant II was assassinated in 668.
THE 4 PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS
1) The Archè (principle, origin), a term whose use dates back to the early philosophical tradition. The Ionic school designates with the name of Archè the primordial substance derivative of all things .
2) Gnoseology, Philosophical discipline that studies the limits of knowledge, its potential, its criteria and justifications, the nature of truth, the existence of the outside world, skepticism in general and relativism.
3) Ethics, study of rational foundations that allow to assign a deontological status to human behaviors , in order to distinguish them in good, fair, lawful, compared to behaviors considered unfair, illicit, unseemly or bad according to an ideal behavioral model.
4) Ontology,By ontology is understood, in a narrow sense, the study of Being as a whole of institutions, limited to what seems to exist in practice or even be just thinkable, therefore according to what would seem attested by the senses or psyche. In a broader sense we mean an investigation into Being beyond the entities through which it manifests itself in appearances and phenomena: the search for Being or their ultimate foundation.
ROME BESIEGES SYRACUSE
Despite diplomatic attempts the war between the Roman Republic and the Kingdom of Syracuse broke out in 214 BC while the Romans were still fighting with Carthage at the height of the Second Punic War (218-201 BC). A Roman force led by General Marcus Claudius Marcello led the siege to the port city renowned for its significant fortifications and the large walls that protected it by sea and land. Among the Syracuse defenders was the mathematician and scientist Archimedes. The city was harshly defended for many months against the Romans and their devices such as floating siege towers with grappling hooks and stairs mounted on ships that had been lowered thanks to pulleys on the city walls. Archimedes devised defensive devices to counter Rome's efforts, including a huge hook operated by a crane - the Archimedes's Claw - which was used to lift enemy ships out of the sea before dropping them. Legend has it that he also created a giant mirror that was used to deflect the powerful Mediterranean sun onto the sails of the ships setting them on fire. The siege mired in a stalemate changed in 212 BC when the Romans received the information that the inhabitants of the city would participate in the annual festival of their Goddess Artemis. A small team of Roman soldiers approached the city under the cover of the night and managed to climb the walls to enter the city in order to allow reinforcements to take control of the outer part of the city. Syracuse fell definitively 8 months later due to the betrayal of one of the captains of the Siracusan army.
ATHEN BESIEGES SYRACUSE 415 BC The Athenian expedition against Syracuse departed in 415 BC inspired by the idea that capturing Syracuse could bring dominion to Sicily and provide the resources Athens needed to win the long war against Sparta.
Although the initial Athenian force was very strong with 130 triremes, 5,000 oplitas, numerous support ships and lighter troops, after initial victories of Athens army commanded by Nicia - a rather undecided general who had opposed the realization of the expedition – the siege became static giving time to Sparta and its allies to send troops and a fleet to Sicily.
Athens sends thousands of reinforcements to overcome the standoff, but the Syracusans and their allies have the upper hand over the Athenian fleet during a naval battle in the port of Syracuse where they managed to trap the Athenian ships burning and sinking them. The Athenian army tried to escape by land, abandoning the many sick and wounded, but it was brought into battle and defeated. The survivors were captured and used as slaves in stone quarries and to build the monuments of Syracuse.
THE ARABS CONQUER SYRACUSE
The 9-month siege of Syracuse by Arabs and Berber Muslims ended on May 21st , 878 AD. after a heroic resistance from the Syracusans still part of the Byzantine Empire of Basil I. It was one of the hardest and bloodiest sieges in Arabs history in Sicily, Syracuse was surrounded and the inhabitants unable to get food. The besieged, though starving, resisted to the conquest. The heroic though vain Syracusan resistance became proverbial among the Byzantines. The capital of Sicily was taken over and the legal title passed to Palermo. This episode marked the end of Syracuse's hegemony on the island.
ARCHIMEDES FROM SYRACUSE
Archimedes 287 - 212 BC considered the greatest mathematician of antiquity and one of the greatest of all time was also physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer; he studied the principles of hydrostatics, statics, explained the principle of lever, designed the screw pump that bears his name, he designed machines capable of lifting enemy ships out of the water and setting them on fire using a series of mirrors, he was able to calculate the surface and volume of the sphere, understood the laws that govern the buoyancy of the bodies, he exhibited a method by which to approximate as much as possible the ratio which today is indicated by π. The exclamation Eureka!I found it! is a famous one over the centuries and attributed to him. Archimedes died in 212 BC during the Second Punic War when Roman forces under General Marcus Claudius Marcellus captured the city of Syracuse after a two-year siege. According to Plutarch's popular account Archimedes was killed because he refused the command of a Roman soldier to follow him, he had to complete the resolution of a problem he was working on.
After Syracuse's victory over the Athenians the captured soldiers were locked up and left to die inside the latomie including that one of the Capuchins (413 BC). Here is the description of Thucydides: "In the stone quarries the treatment imposed in the early days by the Syracusans was very harsh: the crowd , crammed among the walls of that cramped quarry in the open air , in the beginning suffered the lash of the burning sun and the hot flashes that take the breath away, then on the contrary happened the cold autumn nights which with their passage of climate caused new exhaustion and more serious ailments. For narrowness of space they were obliged to meet their needs in that same quarry bottom, moreover the piles of corpses growing up there thrown in bulk on each other, those who bled out of the sores, those crushed by the swings of the season, those killed by other such causes, spread an intolerable stench. And they were plagued by the torment of hunger and thirst (since in the first eight months the Syracusans threw them a cotila of water and two of wheat as a daily ration each). To conclude, they were not granted respite from any of the sufferings to which people buried in such a chasm go. For about seventy days they were in that frightful crush. Then, excluding the Athenian the Siceliote or Italiote troops who had direct responsibility for the expedition, all the others ended up on the slave market.
V sec. b.C. - Today
Every year from May to July the Institute of Ancient Drama ☞ INDA interprets the most famous classical works
The goddess Hera creates a ghost in all similar to Helen and sends it to Troy with Paride, while the true Helen is hidden by Hermes in Egypt as guest of King Proteus. On the death of Proteus, the Teocliman son undermines Elena, who rejects him, partly because the sister of Teoclimeno, the priestess Teonoe (able to see the future), has predicted that he will see her husband Menelaus. Elena is thinking of her sad fate when she sees the Greek messenger Teucro arrive. (PHOTO and PLOT by INDA)
Lysistrata, summoning the women of Athens and other cities, including the Lampitò Spartan, to discuss an important problem: because of the Peloponnesian war, the men of the Greek polis are perpetually engaged in fighting and no longer have the time to be with their women. Lysistrata proposes to all of them to do a sex strike: until men sign the peace, they will refuse to have sex with their men.(PHOTO and PLOT BY INDA)
After a long war, the city of Troy is defeated. The Trojan men were slaughtered and the women assigned as slaves to the winners. Cassandra is given to Agamemnon, Andromache to Neoptolemus and Ecuba to Odysseus. Andromache suffers a terrible fate: Astianatte, the son of Ettore, is killed by the Greeks to prevent one day from avenging his father’s death. Hecuba and Helena find themselves in a sort of judicial agony, to establish the responsibilities of the outbreak of war. Meanwhile, the little body of Astianatte is returned to Hecuba for the funeral rite. Troy is given to the flames while the prisoners greet their city for the last time. (PHOTO and PLOT INDA)
Medea, in Greek mythology, an enchantress who helped Jason, leader of the Argonauts, to obtain the Golden Fleece from her father, King Aeëtes of Colchis. She was of divine descent and had the gift of prophecy. She married Jason and used her magic powers and advice to help him. In one version, when they fled and were pursued by Aeëtes, Jason, in conspiracy with Medea, cut her brother Apsyrtus to pieces and threw him into the sea to delay the pursuit. The Medea of Euripides takes up the story at a later stage, after Jason and Medea had fled Colchis with the fleece and had been driven out of Iolcos because of the vengeance taken by Medea on King Pelias of Iolcos (who had sent Jason to fetch the fleece). The play is set during the time that the pair lived in Corinth, when Jason deserted Medea for the daughter of King Creon of Corinth; in revenge, Medea murdered Creon, his daughter, and her own two sons by Jason and took refuge with King Aegeus of Athens, having escaped from Corinth in a cart drawn by dragons sent by her grandfather Helios. After fleeing Corinth, Medea became the wife of Aegeus, who later drove her away after her unsuccessful attempt to poison his son Theseus. The Greek historian Herodotus related that from Athens Medea went to the region of Asia subsequently called Media, whose inhabitants thereupon changed their name to Medes. Medea also is the heroine of Seneca’s Medea, a tragedy based on Euripides’ drama, and a number of modern settings, including plays by the 19th-century Austrian dramatist Franz Grillparzer and the 20th-century French playwright Jean Anouilh and operas by the Italian-French composer Luigi Cherubini (1797) and the French composer Darius Milhaud (1939).
(Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Oedipus Rex, (Latin: “Oedipus the King”) Greek Oidipous Tyrannos, play by Sophocles, performed sometime between 430 and 426 BCE, that marks the summit of classical Greek drama’s formal achievement, known for its tight construction, mounting tension, and perfect use of the dramatic devices of recognition and discovery. It examines the story of Oedipus, who, in attempting to flee from his fate, rushes headlong to meet it. At the outset of the play, Oedipus is the beloved ruler of the city of Thebes, whose citizens have been stricken by a plague. Consulting the Delphic oracle, Oedipus is told that the plague will cease only when the murderer of Queen Jocasta’s first husband, King Laius, has been found and punished for his deed. Oedipus resolves to find Laius’s killer. His investigation turns into an obsessive reconstruction of his own hidden past when he discovers that the old man he killed when he first approached Thebes as a youth was none other than Laius. At the end, Jocasta hangs herself in shame, and the guilt-stricken Oedipus blinds himself. In Sophocles’ later play Oedipus at Colonus (produced posthumously 401 BCE; Oidipous epi Kolōnō), the blind, aged Oedipus has spent many years wandering in exile. When he arrives at a sacred grove, he is guaranteed protection by Theseus, the noble king of Athens. He ultimately departs to a mysterious death at Colonus, a village near Athens, where he will become a benevolent source of defense to the land that has given him final refuge. The play is remarkable for its melancholy and beauty, the power of its lyric odes, and its majestic characterization of Oedipus.
(Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)
Oresteia, trilogy of tragic dramas by the ancient Greek dramatist Aeschylus, first performed in 458 BCE. It is his last work and the only complete trilogy of Greek dramas that has survived. The Oresteia tells the story of the house of Atreus. The first play, Agamemnon, portrays the victorious return of that king from the Trojan War and his murder by his wife, Clytemnestra, and her lover, Aegisthus. At the play’s end Clytemnestra and her lover rule Árgos. The work has extraordinary, sustained dramatic and poetic power. Particularly notable are the fascinating richness of Clytemnestra’s deceitful words and the striking choral songs, which raise in metaphorical and often enigmatic terms the major themes—of theology, politics, and blood relationships—that are elaborated throughout the trilogy. The second play, Choephoroi (Libation Bearers), takes its title from the chorus of women servants who come to pour propitiatory offerings at the tomb of the murdered Agamemnon. It details the revenge of Agamemnon’s daughter Electra and his son, Orestes. The siblings together invoke the aid of the dead Agamemnon in their plans. Orestes then slays Aegisthus, but Orestes’ subsequent murder of Clytemnestra is committed reluctantly, at the god Apollo’s bidding. Orestes’ attempts at self-justification then falter, and he flees, guilt-wracked, maddened, and pursued by the female incarnations of his mother’s curse, the Furies (Erinyes). The third play, Eumenides, opens at the shrine of Apollo at Delphi, where Orestes has taken sanctuary from the Furies. At the command of the Delphic oracle, Orestes journeys to Athens to stand trial for his matricide. There the goddess Athena organizes a trial with a jury of citizens. The Furies are his accusers, Apollo his advocate. The jury is evenly divided in its vote, and Athena casts the tie-breaking vote for Orestes’ acquittal. The Furies then turn their vengeful resentment against the city itself, but Athena persuades them, in return for a home and cult, to bless Athens instead and reside there as the Eumenides (“Kind Goddesses”) of the play’s title. The trilogy thus ends with the cycle of retributive bloodshed closed and supplanted by the rule of law and the justice of the state.
(Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)
As in Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers, the action in Electra (Greek Ēlektra) follows the return of Orestes to kill his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover Aegisthus in retribution for their murder of Orestes’ father, Agamemnon. In this play, however, the main focus is on Orestes’ sister Electra and her anguished participation in her brother’s plans. To gain admittance to the palace and thus be able to execute his revenge, Orestes spreads false news of his own death. Believing this report, the despairing Electra unsuccessfully tries to enlist her sister Chrysothemis in an attempt to murder their mother. In a dramatic scene, Orestes then enters in disguise and hands Electra the urn that is supposed to contain his own ashes. Moved by his sister’s display of grief, Orestes reveals his true identity to her and then strikes down his mother and her lover. Electra’s triumph is thus complete. In the play Electra is seen passing through the whole range of human emotions—from passionate love to cruel hatred, from numb despair to wild joy. There is debate over whether the play depicts virtue triumphant or, rather, portrays a young woman incurably twisted by years of hatred and resentment.
(Source: Encyclopaedia Britannica)
1. ORTIGIA "Dal 734 a.C. ad oggi"
2. MUSEO P.ORSI "Capolavori d'archeologia"
3. MUSEO BELLOMO "Galleria d'arte"
4. NEAPOLIS "Meraviglioso parco archeologico "
Private 7h/4h/2h tour with professional tour guide to discover the hidden secrets of the streets and palaces of the island.
Sites of interest : Temple of Apollo, Ortigia Market, Archimedes Square, Cathedral Square, Aretusa Fountain, Maniace Castle, Bellomo Museum (Optional),Jewish district. The itinerary for shorter visits will be established on site according to your preferences.
Meeting point: Temple of Apollo
Start time: 09:00 - 7/7.
Private tour with professional tour guide to discover the important archaeological finds preserved in the museum. The exhibition is organized in four sectors SECTOR A,Bronze Age (1270 / 650 BC) SECTOR B, Greek Colonization, noteworthy masterpieces are: an extraordinary Kourotrophos (breastfeeding mother), a funeral statue with an inscription bearing the name of the deceased, a Kouros of the 5th century B.C., a vase with inscription dedicated to Arternis of Pherae and the famous small stylized bronze horse of the 8th century BC. SECTOR C, Syracuse's Sub-colonies: including a species of amphora signed by Polynoto 440-430 BC). SECTOR D, Roman and Hellenistic period of Sicily, noteworthy masterpieces are: the Venus Landolina and the sarcophagus of Adelfia from the 4th century A.D.
Meeting point: Museum entrance Museo ↱ , viale Teocrito 66 Siracusa
Start time: 9am-4pm - 5/7. Monday closed, Sunday 9am-11am.
Private tour with professional tour guide to discover the most important artworks of the museum. The museum is located in a building dating back to the Swabian period that was transformed and expanded in the 15th century by the Bellomo family - one of the most powerful in Syracuse. It was completely restored and opened as a gallery in 1948. The Gallery illustrates the development of painting and decorative arts in Syracuse and southeastern Sicily. The most important works are: "The Annunciation" by Antonello da Messina painted in 1471; "Our Lady with the Child" by Domenico Gagini, white marble of Carrara XVI century; Funeral monument of Eleonora Branciforte by G.B. Mazzolo, white marble of Carrara 1525.Bellomo gallery entry ↱, via Capodieci 47 Siracusa
Start time: 9 a.m.-4 p.m.- 5/7 .Sunday 9-11 a.m. Monday closed.
Private tour with professional tour guide to discover an archaeological park full of monuments of notable works such as the Greek Theatre, The Roman Amphitheatre, the Ear of Dionysius, the Paradise Latomies, the Ara of Ierone and more
Park Entry ↱ Chiesa S.Nicolò ai Cordari located at the entrance of the Archaeological Park, at the intersection of streets Via luigi Bernabò Brea and via Ettore Romagnoli.
Starting time: dalle 09:00 alle 16:00 - 7/7 .
(“Guardian, protectress”) was a mythological monster, a Gorgon, generally described as a winged human female with living venomous snakes in place of hair. Those who gazed upon her face would turn to stone