Emelie Byström

Borsista di archeologia classica

Founding females? Nymphs in colonial narratives on Sicily, 734-264 BC

The aim of my PhD dissertation is to explore the connection between Sicilian nymphs and their role in colonial narratives on Sicily during the period 734-264 BC. Through their connection with natural features, predominantly different bodies of water and the volcano Etna, Sicilian nymphs had the potential to construct and influence the perception of space. They represented an ancestral link enabling colonies to claim that these divine powers always had been in control of the place and that they manifested themselves in the most marked elements of the landscape. Numerous Greek settlements on Sicily connect the name of the polis to the name of a nymph, often by explicitly connecting the polis to a natural feature, personified by a one or a plurality of nymphs, characterizing its territory. Logically, the name of the eponymous feature should be more ancient than the settlement receiving it, but this is rarely the case. In other words, local nymphs play a role in Greek colonial narratives that may have been formulated or re-formulated long after the colonial event, and often from an external, non-local perspective.

The material consists of ancient written sources and archaeological evidence. The project uses theories of space and narratology.