The spring of the Clitumnus, source of poetry
There are not many places in the world that can flaunt such a long and interesting list of literary references, built over the centuries: the springs of the Clitumnus in Umbria, near the Temple we wrote about a while back very likely holds the record.
The Clitumnus is born between Spoleto and Foligno, and after sixty kilometers dives into the Topino River, a tributary of the Tiber; it is the “sacred current” mentioned by Virgil in his “Georgics”, and the “beautiful river that provides shade with his forest” that Sextus Propertius describes in his “Elegies”.
In a letter to a friend, Pliny the Younger wrote about this spring made up of “many and different veins”, which “give life to a pond so pure and crystalline that you could count the coins thrown into it or the stones glistening at its bottom.”
George Byron’s “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” immortalizes
thy sweetest wave / Of the most living crystal that was e’er / The haunt of river nymph.
Italian poet Giosuè Carducci titled one of his “Barbarian Odes” “The Head-waters of the Clitumnus”, defining the river as
testimony of three Empires, referring to the Umbri, Etruscans and Romans.
We could still mention Juvenal, Statius, Silius Italicus, Claudian and more. But let’s let words rest, and enjoy the poetry of these images for now.