Etna: between art and literature

I had heard about the stupendous iridescence of the Ionian Sea, when you contemplate it from Etna's summit. I determined to undertake the ascent of that mountain; We passed from the region of vineyards, the lava, then snow. The child's legs dancer ran on those steep chine; the scholars who accompanied me went up on the backs of mules. On top it was built a shelter where you can wait for the dawn. This finally appeared: a huge scarf of Iris stretched from horizon to horizon; strange fires shone on the ice of the summit; the earthly and marine vastness revealed to our gaze far as Africa, clearly visible, and Greece that one guessed. It was one of the supreme moments of my life. Nothing was missing, or the golden fringe of a cloud, nor the eagles, nor the bearer of immortality.

Adrian's memories, Marguerite Yourcenar
A. Carracci - Polyphemus' anger
A. Carracci - Polyphemus' anger

Etna since ancient Greece was a source of inspiration for writers and artists. Already in the 'Odyssey, the Cyclops Polyphemus furious Ulysses blinded him his unique eye, hurls blocks of lava, which today are found in the tradition of the seafront in Acitrezza near Catania. In Greek mythology, the Cyclops were the blacksmiths of Hephaestus who forged the thunderbolts in Etna Zeus. With the eruption of 475 BC, described in the First Pythian Ode of Pindar (c.518-c.438 BC), he tells the story of Typhon (or Typhoon), another giant who wandered in volcanic areas, which, imprisoned under the weight of the volcano, he rivomitava the arrows shot at him by Jupiter. Shortly after it is to Thucydides, the historian of the Peloponnesian War, which resembles an eruption occurred in 425 BC, when the lava invaded the territory of Catania, for the third time since the Greeks had arrived in Sicily. According to Diodorus of Sicily and other historical authors (Aristotle, Pausanias and others, the place generally between 736 and 456 BC), the casting of the 396 BC He barred the way to the Carthaginian troops led by Imilcone who, at war with Dionysius of Syracuse, was trying to reach Catania along the coast, so you have the constant support of the fleet of Magone. Then the Virgil inspired by the charm of the place, wrote the poem "Aetna" which retraces the volcanic phenomena, and then in the fourth book of 'Aeneid between these places raises one of the most ardent of the literature, "Dido abandoned" embodying the irrational part that dwells within each of us. The 'beautiful place, the "topos" of the locus amoenus was an issue which gave opportunity to another great poet Ovid how to choose the right wood Sicilian Etna to tell in "Metamorphoses" the abduction of the beautiful Proserpina by Pluto.

Later, in the sixteenth century. and in the seventeenth century. of the combination of fire and ice you could trace a path that ideal by Giacomo da Lentini reaches the "we shall see the fire to ice, snow arder" of Petrarch in the song "Giovene woman under a green laurel", the XXX of the Canzoniere combination of fire and ice, rises to the rank of literary theme. In Lorenzo de 'Medici, however, Etna becomes the figure of the passion of love, but it is only in the poetry of Tasso you get to the fulfillment of this literary journey that elevates the volcano to a source of ardent passions; But the figure also comes across the Alps and Etna Shakespeare in his Titus Andronicus compares the flames of the Sicilian volcano to the flames of hell, but also in Milton it will be the background to the story of the rape of Persephone.

Etna in the Coldplay video "Violet Hill"
Etna in the Coldplay video "Violet Hill"

In the Romantic era arrives in Sicily the German poet, Goethe to free from the constraints of bourgeois society and find a more intense relationship with nature that takes on a symbolic significance and allusive, and it is in the nature of the volcano Etna selvagga that it sees the life force to reach the divine; while Guy de Maupassant remain fascinated by the majesty of Etna.

Subsequently also the two largest Sicilian writers, Verga and Pirandello, ambienteranno in these places many of their works, and more recently the futurist Marinetti and the great theater director, Giorgio Strehler, will remain so impressed by the sight of the volcano, which in some of their works, Etna will be a source of inspiration. In the 2000s the image of a mighty Etna rude and will travel around the world thanks to the English band Coldplay who, in the video for their single "Violet Hill" will use the Sicilian volcano as a natural set. To date Etna is natural set for many Italian and foreign brands, photos of local artists Etna erupting also thanks to the advent of social networks have been around the world by offering a broader context that the striking images these have been able to steal.

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