07/02/12 Aggiornato il:

Aci and Galatea



Metamorphoses, from the greek transformations, is a latin narrative poem in fifteen books by the Roman poet Ovid, describing the history of the world from its creation to the deification of Julius Caesar within a loose mythico-historical framework.
Completed in AD 8, it is recognized as a masterpiece of Golden Age Latin literature.
The most-read of all classical works during the Middle Ages, the Metamorphoses continues to exert a profound influence on Western culture. It also remains the favourite work of reference for greek myth upon which Ovid based these tales, albeit often with stylistic adaptations.
Statue of Acis and Galatea in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris


In Ovid's Metamorphoses, Acis was the spirit of the Acis River in Sicily, beloved of the nereid, or sea-nymph, Galatea "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.
According to Ovid's Metamorphoses, Acis was the son of Faunus and the river-nymph Symaethis, daughter of the River Symaethus.
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.
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".
Acis And Galatea - AntoineJean Gros, 1833
Acis and Galatea - Claude Lorrain
Acis playing the flute sculpture - Jean-Baptiste Tuby, 1674
Statue of Acis and Galatea in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Statue of Acis and Galatea in the Luxembourg Gardens, Paris
Galatea sculpture - Jean-Baptiste Tuby 1667-75
Marble statue in the garden publics of Acireale, Sicily