Arethusa was a nymph (deity in charge of forces of nature) from Arcadia who went away from her home and transformed into a freshwater fountain on Ortygia island in Syracuse, Sicily. Her transformation started when she bathed in a stream. Little did she know, it was the river god Alpheus from Arcadia. Alpheus was captivated by her beauty and started pursuing her. Devoted to her patron goddess Artemis, the goddess of the wilderness, vegetation and of chastity, and determined to preserve her chastity, Arethusa tried to escape from Alpheus. However, Alpheus’s determination remained unyielding. Overwhelmed by fear, Arethusa began to perspire excessively, eventually transforming into a stream.  

Greece 5 Million Drachmai | 1944 | Source: Banknote World

Numismatics Ft Arethusa

Arethusa is depicted on some Greek drachma banknotes like on the obverse of the 5 million note from 1944. The paper bill shows a profile of the nymph as found on the dekadrachm of Syracuse. The coin of Arethusa is among the most popular and most beautiful coins in Ancient Greece. The note displays the denomination. 

Cyprus 10 Pounds Banknote, 2005 | Source: Banknote World

On the obverse of the Cyprus 10 Pound banknote from 2005 portrays the Greek goddess Artemis To protect Arethusa, Artemis opened the ground, allowing her an opportunity to escape once more. Thus, the stream that was once Arethusa traversed beneath the sea until it reached the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily. However, Alpheus, undeterred, surged through the sea to unite with Arethusa and merge with her waters. The note’s reverse highlights a green turtle, Cyprus warbler birds, a tulip, and a Paphos butterfly.  

Greek Gods of Power: Box of 3 Ancient Greek Bronze Coins | Source: Banknote World

This Greek Gods of Power Box contains 3 Ancient Greek bronze coins including a 275-215 BCE coin from Syracuse in Sicily. It features Poseidon on one side and a trident and dolphins on the other side. Also in this collection are 196-146 BCE coins from Thessaly featuring Athena and a prancing horse, and Apollo and Athena with a spear and a shield.  

Alpheus and Arethusa by John Martin, 1832 | Source: Wikipedia

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