The legend of the origin of Siena is a fascinating tale steeped in myth that sheds light on the legendary beginnings of this Tuscan city. The story, although intertwined with fantastical elements, has contributed to shaping Siena’s cultural and historical identity, enriching its narrative and connection to the past.
According to the legend, the foundation of Siena is linked to Senius and Aschius, twin sons of Remus, one of the mythical founders of Rome. This narrative intertwines the stories of Siena and Rome, bestowing upon the Sienese city an aura of nobility and noble lineage. Senius and Aschius, exiled from Rome after their father’s death, ventured out to find a new home. Upon reaching the Tuscan region, they began their quest to find a place to settle.
The legend tells that Senius and Aschius arrived at Mount Verna, where Siena stands today, and during their search, they encountered a wolf, an animal sacred to the goddess Diana. This wolf would serve as a divine sign and indication of the place to establish their city. The two brothers decided to settle on that hill and named their new city “Senia,” in honor of Senius.
Another intriguing element of the legend is Siena’s association with the image of the “istrica,” a mythical and legendary creature resembling a porcupine. The istrica, with its enigmatic nature, would have been a sign of good omen for the founders and influenced the choice of “Senia” as the city’s name.
While the story of Siena’s origin is rich with myth and symbolism, it’s important to note that historians acknowledge that many foundation legends have roots in oral traditions and popular beliefs. These mythical narratives, while they may contain fantastical elements, contribute to defining the cultural identity of a community and providing a link to the past.
The legend of Siena’s origin has influenced art, literature, and popular culture in the city. Depictions of the wolf and the istrica are often found in various monuments, buildings, and artworks. Furthermore, the legend has been passed down through generations, helping to solidify the sense of belonging of the Sienese people to their city.
In conclusion, the legend of Siena’s origin is a captivating tale that weaves myth and reality, creating a fabric of storytelling that has helped shape the identity of this charming Tuscan city. While it might be challenging to separate historical truth from legend, the importance of these stories in Siena’s culture is undeniable, representing an intrinsic part of the city’s soul and its connection to the past.