“The river god Alpheus fell in love with Arethusa….Arethusa fled to Ortygia, where she was changed into a spring.”

I am curious about why so many “love” stories in Greek mythology sound like this.  The female always flees her male lover.

Is the flight somehow needed to explain the location of a geographical element (in this case a spring) or a natural element (often a flower) that a woman is turned into?  Is there any symbolism behind the woman becoming a part of nature, almost as if she is using camouflage as a survival strategy?

Or is it because the pursuit is less the pursuit of a lover and more the pursuit of a rapist?

Or, is this an ancient example of a woman “playing hard to get”?

My understanding of ancient tales of love is very clouded, though, by the Western romantic tradition.


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