ARETHUSA, in Greek mythology, a nymph who gave her name to a spring in Elis and to another in the island of Ortygia near Syracuse.
The probable origin of the story is the part traditionally taken in the foundation of Syracuse by the Iamidae of Olympia, who identified the spring Arethusa with their own river Alpheus, and the nymph with Artemis Alpheiaia, who was worshipped at Ortygia.
The subterranean passage of the Alpheus in the upper part of its course (confirmed by modern explorers), and the freshness of the water of Arethusa in spite of its proximity to the sea, led to the belief that it was the outlet of the river.
His waters were said to pass beneath the sea and rise again in the fountain Arethusa at Syracuse; such is the earlier version from which later mythologists and poets evolved the familiar myth of the loves of Alpheus and Arethusa.
Some time in that year Tenedos, Chios, Chalcis in Euboea, and probably the Euboean cities Eretria, Carystus and Arethusa gave in their adherence, followed by Perinthus, Peparethus, Sciathus and other maritime cities.
As gunnery lieutenant he continued in the "President" till 1849; and in the following year he was appointed to the "Arethusa" frigate, then commissioned for the Mediterranean by Captain Symonds, afterwards the well-known admiral of the fleet.
The island is incidentally described with no small variety of detail, picturesque and topographical; the Homeric localities for which counterparts have been sought are Mount Neritos, Mount Neion, the harbour of Phorcys, the town and palace of Odysseus, the fountain of Arethusa, the cave of the Naiads, the stalls of the swineherd Eumaeus, the orchard of Laertes, the Korax or Raven Cliff and the island Asteris, where the suitors lay in ambush for Telemachus.