Arethusa and Alpheus

A Tale of Lovers


Arethusa was a Greek huntress and a follower of Artemis. She, like the goddess, would have nothing to do with men. After hunting she came across a stream shaded by willows. She decided to go for a swim, as she was swimming she felt something beneath her and was frightened. When she hurried out of the water a voice called out to her "Why are you leaving, fair maiden?" Terrified, she ran into the forest as fast as she could. However she was pursued by someone stronger, if not swifter than she was. The voice told her his name was Alpheus, the god of the river, and that he was following her because he loved her. She kept running but could not escape because a river can run longer than any mortal. Exhausted Arethusa called out to Artemis. The goddess answered by turning her into a spring. Artemis created a channel underground that lead to Syracuse. Arethusa plunged into the channel, and Alpheus turned back into a river and followed after her. Arethusa was not free of Alpheus, and their waters mingled. Greek flowers are sometimes seen in the Sicilian spring, and it is said if you throw a cup into the Alpheus river it will appear in Arethusa's spring.
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Was This A Good Match?

This was not a good match because Arethusa did not want to be with Alpheus. Fleeing from Alpheus, Arethusa prayed to Artemis for help. The goddess turned her into a spring, but that didn't stop the river god. Alpheus didn't leave Arethusa alone, and pretty much forced her to be with him.