Parthenope (Siren)

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The Fountain of the Spinacorona, a depiction of Parthenope in Naples.
Sub groupingSiren
ParentsAchelous and Terpsichore
RegionSirenum scopuli
HabitatSeagirt meadows
Illustration of Parthenope from the Delle imprese trattato by Giulio Cesare Capaccio

Parthenope (Greek: Παρθενόπη) was one of the Sirens in Greek mythology. Her name means "Maiden-voiced".[1]:20


According to Greek legend, Parthenope was the daughter of the god Achelous and the Muse Terpsichore.[1]:35[2] She cast herself into the sea and drowned when her songs failed to entice Odysseus.[3][4]:293 Her body washed ashore at Naples, on the island of Megaride, where the Castel dell'Ovo is now located.[5] When people from the city of Cumae settled there, they named their city Parthenope in her honour.[6]

A Roman myth tells a different version of the tale, in which a centaur named Vesuvius was enamored with Parthenope. Angered, Jupiter turned the centaur into a stratovolcano and Parthenope into the city of Naples. Thwarted in his desire, Vesuvius' rage is manifested in the volcano's frequent violent eruptions.[7]

In literature and art[edit]

Parthenope has been depicted in various forms of literature and art, from ancient coins that bore her semblance[2] to the Fountain of the Spinacorona, where she is depicted quenching the fires of Vesuvius with water from her breasts.[8] In his Georgics, Virgil stated that he had been nurtured by Parthenope, writing:

At that time sweet Parthenope was nurturing me, Virgil, as I flourished in the pursuits of my inglorious leisure...

— Virgil, Georgics[4]:289

In addition, Parthenope has served as the inspiration for a number of other works, such as Manuel de Zumaya's Partenope and the ancient Greek novel Mētiokhos kai Parthenopē.[9] Also, several operas based on the myth of Parthenope were composed on the 18th century by Sarro (1722), Vinci (1725), Handel (1730), Vivaldi (1738) and Hasse (1767).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Austern, Linda; Naroditskaya, Inna, eds. (2006). Music of the Sirens. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-21846-2. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b Spink & Son (1906). The Numismatic Circular and Catalogue of Coins, Tokens, Commemorative & War Medals, Books & Cabinets, Volume 14. Piccadily: Spink & Son. p. 9010. Retrieved 28 June 2014.
  3. ^ Facaros, Dana; Pauls, Michael (2007). Bay of Naples and Southern Italy. Cape Town, South Africa: New Holland Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 978-1-86-011349-9. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b Miles, Gary B. (1980). Virgil's Georgics: A New Interpretation. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-03789-8. Retrieved 29 June 2014.
  5. ^ Lancaster, Jordan (2005). In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Cultural History of Naples. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. p. 11. ISBN 1-85043-764-5. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  6. ^ Jansen, Laura, ed. (2014). The Roman Paratext: Frame, Texts, Readers. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press. p. 230. ISBN 978-1-107-02436-6. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  7. ^ Ledeen, Michael (2011). Virgil's Golden Egg and Other Neapolitan Miracles: an Investigation into the Sources of Creativity. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction Publishers. p. 37. ISBN 978-1-4128-4240-2. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  8. ^ "Fontana di Spinacorona (detta Fontana delle zizze)". CorpodiNapoli. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  9. ^ Hägg, Thomas; Utas, Bo, eds. (2003). The Virgin and Her Lover: Fragments of an Ancient Greek Novel and a Persian Epic Poem. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 5. ISBN 90-04-13260-0. Retrieved 30 June 2014.