Acis and Galatea (mythology)
|Titans and Olympians|
- For other meanings, see ACIS (disambiguation)
In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Acis (Greek: Άκις) was the spirit of the Acis River in Sicily, beloved of the nereid, or sea-nymph, Galatea (Γαλάτεια; "she who is milk-white"). Galatea returned the love of Acis, but a jealous suitor, the Sicilian Cyclops Polyphemus, killed him with a boulder. Distraught, Galatea then turned his blood into the river Acis. The Acis River flowed past Akion (Acium) near Mount Etna in Sicily.
The tale occurs nowhere earlier than in Ovid; it may be a fiction invented by Ovid "suggested by the manner in which the little river springs forth from under a rock". According to Athenaeus, ca 200 CE the story was first concocted as a political satire against the Sicilian tyrant Dionysius I of Syracuse, whose favourite concubine, Galatea, shared her name with a nereid mentioned by Homer. Others claim the story was invented to explain the presence of a shrine dedicated to Galatea on Mount Etna.
A first-century fresco removed from an Imperial villa at Boscotrecase, preserved by the eruption of Vesuvius, and now at the Metropolitan Museum of Art shows the three figures as incidents in a landscape.
Cultural references 
The tale of Acis and Galatea was familiar from the Renaissance onwards: there are paintings of the subject, sometimes as mythological incidents in a large landscape, by Adam Elsheimer. Nicolas Poussin (National Gallery of Ireland), and Claude Lorrain (Dresden).
In music, the story was the basis for Lully's Acis et Galatée. Handel created both Acis and Galatea and Aci, Galatea e Polifemo on the story and Antonio de Literes wrote the zarzuela Acis y Galatea. Nicola Porpora's opera Polifemo and Jean Cras's opera Polyphème are also based on the story.
Claude Lorrain's painting of Acis and Galatea inspired Fyodor Dostoevsky's description of the 'Golden Age'; explicitly in 'A Raw Youth' and in Stavrogin's dream in 'The Devils', and implicitly in 'The Dream of a Ridiculous Man'.
- Ovid. Metamorphoses xiii. 750–68.
- Hesiod. Theogony; Homer. Iliad.
- Philoxenus of Cythera, Theocritus Idylls VI; Ovid Metamorphoses xiii.750-68.
- Schmitz, Leonhard (1867), "Acis", in Smith, William, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology 1, Boston, MA, p. 13
- Athenaeus, Deipnosophistae 1.6e
- Scholiast on Theocritus' Idyll VI quoting the historian Duris and the poet Philoxenus of Cythera
- Polyphemus and Galatea in a landscape
- National Gallery of Scotland. Elsheimer changed his mind midway and painted out the figures, rendering the painting a pure landscape. Elsheimer highlights
- Other images of Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus are displayed at the ICONOS site.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Acis|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Galatea (nymph)|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Acis.|
- Grimal, Pierre (1986). The Dictionary of Classical Mythology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-20102-5.
- Smith, Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology: Acis
- Theoi.com: Akis
- Galatea the Nereid in classical literature and art
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Smith, William, ed. (1867). "article name needed". Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology.