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U Liotru - The elephant of Catania PDF Print E-mail

U liotru

The source of the elephant in Catania, which since 1239 is the official symbol of the city, is related to an ancient legend. This legend says that when Catania was for the first time inhabited, all fierce and dangerous animals were placed to flight by an elephant, to which the people of Catania call him "liotru", that is a dialectal correction of the name Elidor. He was a magician of the eighth century, which was burned alive in 778 by the bishop of Catania St. Leone II the Healer because Elidoro, having failed to become bishop of the city, disturbed sacred functions with various spells, including that one of animate the elephant of stone.

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Several hypotheses have been made by researchers to explain the origin of the statue of stone, which today dominates Duomo Square, in the arrangement given to her by Vaccarini in 1736.

Two of these assumptions deserve a mention: first, by the historian Pietro Carrera from Militello (1571-1647), who explained it as a symbol of military victory given by the people of Catania on the Libyan. The most reliable hypothesis is, however, expressed by the Arab geographer Idrisi in the twelfth century: according to Idrisi, the elephant of Catania is a magical statue, built in Byzantine times, just to keep away the injuries of volcano Etna from Catania. This seems to be the best explanation that we can give to the friendly elephant, which the people of Catania are very close, so as to threaten a popular revolt, in 1862, when was done the proposal to transfer "u liotru" from Duomo Square to Palestro Square.


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