The Charm of the Siren: the place of classical Sicily in historiography

Giovanna Ceserani

in Sicily from Aeneas to Augustus

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2000 | ISBN: 9780748613670
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748650996 | DOI:
The Charm of the Siren: the place of classical Sicily in historiography

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This chapter explores the figure of the Siren in Giuseppe Tomas di Lampedusa's short story ‘The Professor and the Siren’. She is characterised as somehow more than Greek: she is eternal, one of the pre-Olympic deities, expressing in herself a synthesis between bestiality and immortality that cannot be articulated. After encountering the Siren, the Professor thinks of the temples of Agrigentum as ‘modern’; he can find comfort only in the images of archaic and early classical Greek art. The chapter argues that a historicisation of the model of continuity allows a deeper insight and accounts for a more complex relationship with Sicily's Greek past, and examines the model of Tommaso Fazello's work in its own terms. It also highlights the critique and problematisation of Fazello as a ‘model’ by the Sicilian Enlightenment at the end of the eighteenth century.

Keywords: Siren; deities; immortality; temples; Agrigentum; historicisation; Sicily; Tommaso Fazello; Enlightenment

Chapter.  9053 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Greek and Roman Archaeology

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