By the stream so cool and clear
When I was pondering about writing a review over "Arethusa" in English I decided not to translate solely my German version. Because in English I found a different ancient myth from the nymph "Arethusa". And in my mind "it" sung always a Scottish folksong , arranged by Josef Haydn for one voice, viola and basso continuo, which I sometimes performed. Some old Scottish folksong-texts are a mixture of Celtic myths with ancient Greek or Romain myths:
1. By the stream so cool and clear,
and through the caves where breezes languish,
soothing still my tender anguish,
hoping still to find my lover,
I have wander'd far and near,
o where shall I the youth discover!
2. Sleeps he in your breezy shade,
Ye rocks with moss and ivy waving,
on some bank where wild waves laving,
murmur thro' the twisted willow:
On that bank, o were I laid,
how soft should be my lover's pillow!
" Arethusa Ancient Greek: means "the waterer". In Greek mythology, she was a nymph and daughter of Nereus (making her a Nereid), who fled from her home in Arcadia beneath the sea and came up as a fresh water fountain on the island of Ortygia in Syracuse, Sicily.
The myth of her transformation begins in Arcadia when she came across a clear stream and began bathing, not knowing it was the river god Alpheus, who flowed down from Arcadia through Elis to the sea. He fell in love during their encounter, but she fled after discovering his presence and intentions, as she wished to remain a chaste attendant of Artemis. After a long chase, she prayed to her goddess to ask for protection. Artemis hid her in a cloud, but Alpheus was persistent. She began to perspire profusely from fear, and soon transformed into a stream. Artemis then broke the ground allowing Arethusa another attempt to flee.
Her stream traveled under the sea to the island of Ortygia, but Alpheus flowed through the sea to reach her and mingle with her waters. Virgil augurs for Arethusa a salt-free passage beneath the sea on the condition that, before departing, she grant him songs about troubled loves, not those in her own future, but those of Virgil's friend and contemporary, the poet Cornelius Gallus, whom Virgil imagines dying from unrequited love beneath the famous mountains of Arcadia, Maenalus and Lycaeus.
During Demeter's search for her daughter Persephone, Arethusa entreated Demeter to discontinue her punishment of Sicily for her daughter's disappearance. She told the goddess that while traveling in her stream below the earth, she saw her daughter looking sad as the queen of Hades.
Arethusa occasionally appeared on coins as a young girl with a net in her hair and dolphins around her head. These coins were common around Ortygia, the location in which she ends up after fleeing from Alpheus.
The Roman writer Ovid called Arethusa by the name "Alpheias", because her stream was believed to have a subterranean communication with the river Alpheius, in Peloponnesus."
For my opinion the fragrance "Arthusa" is joining the antique myth in a sophiticated way:
While I was testing „Arethusa“ it was permanently withdrawing an interpretation because I was partly not able to identify single aromatic substances.
„Arethusa“ is undoubtable a very exciting scent concerning perception and impact. For my opinion I was experiencing a lot, was able to recognize many sensations. Nevertheless I am not adequatly able to describe or to jugde "Arethusa" .
Undoubtedly „Arethusa“ is a chypre starting tangy, spicy and bitter. Followed with citric, fougery and green notes, joined with a particular balsamic aroma. Bitter smelling absinth is repelling me despite my particular liking of bitter scents. Especially peculiar I am considering the permanent perceptible smell of the headnote all over the longevity .
Continuingly enriched by a tangy fruity heart-note „Arethusa“ is developing a subtle flower-blend flavour. Remaining always in the backround this very delicate blossom-mixture is as well fragranting in a restrained kind of cream.
Now I should be capable to describe something about the base-note of “Artethusa”. But to be honest; on from the beginning “Artethusa” is smelling for me almost always the same way. Because the development is finished within a very short time.
Since the base-notes probably are activated from the beginning, it does not make sense to repeat them once more.
ALzD is describing “Arethusa” as the image of the Sicilian peninsula Ortigia. Though I know so far all perfume-notes and those of the plants particular and single, I know them smelling in a natural environment and mixture quite different.
I would compare the smell of “Arethusa” with a basket filled with all listed plants cut in the heat of summer, while already starting to dry, slightly wilted they are fragranting tangy.
The mentioned notes of sand and salt should be evoking the imagination of a hot summer day on a Mediteranean sea shore.
Concerning that intention I am not convinced. There are no aquatic notes . Instead I am intrigued by the vaguely exotic and resinous-fruity mixture underneath the strong base notes.
At least for me the scent "Arethusa" is as entangled as the different myths of Arethusa the nymph.