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CYANE

CYANE (Κυάνη), a fountain and river in the neighbourhood of Syracuse, flowing into the Anapus. According to a legend preserved by several ancient writers, it was the spot where Pluto descended to the infernal regions with Proserpine, after he had carried her off near Enna. According to Ovid, the tutelary nymph of the fountain, Cyane, who is represented as the bride of Anapus, in vain endeavoured to oppose Pluto, and was in consequence herself changed into a fountain. (Ovid, Ov. Met. 5.409-437, 465; Claudian, de Rapt. Proserp. 3.246; Diod. 5.4; Cic. Ver. 4.48) The extreme beauty and clearness of its waters (from the deep blue colour of which its name was obviously derived) would naturally lead to the worship of its tutelary nymph; and we accordingly find that there was a shrine or temple of Cyane in the immediate neighbourhood of the fountain, where an annual festival was held, the institution of which was ascribed to Hercules. (Diod. 4.23, 5.4, 14.72; Ael. VH 2.33.) The source of the Cyane, now called La Pisma, is situated in low marshy ground, at the foot of the limestone hills due W. from the great harbour of Syracuse, from which it is distant about two miles. It is a beautiful circular basin, of about 50 feet in diameter, and 20 or 30 deep: its pellucid blue waters well up with a strong spring, and form at once a considerable river, which flows with a deep and tranquil current [p. 1.722]for near a mile and a half, when it joins the Anapus immediately below the Olympeium. It is remarkable at the present day as the only place in Europe that produces the true Egyptian papyrus (Cyperus papyrus): it is not improbable that this plant was introduced from Egypt by the Syracusan kings, in the days of their intimate relations with the Ptolemies. (Leake, Notes on Syracuse, p. 252; D'Orville, Sicula, p. 190; Hoare's Class. Tour, vol. ii. p. 163.) On the height above the fountain are some vestiges of an ancient building, which may probably mark the site of the temple of the nymph Cyane (τὸ τῆς Κυάνης ἱερόν, Diod. 14.72): it was from thence that, in B.C. 396, Dionysius attacked the Carthaginian camp under Himilco; and it therefore probably stood upon elevated ground.

[E.H.B]

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