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the trinacria
26-APR-2008 marie-josée wolff

the trinacria

Story of the trinacria in Sicily
Anyone who has been to the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea will be aware of the triangular symbol of the island.

It bears an uncanny resemblance to the famous 'trinacria' of Sicily. Are both derived from ancient Greek mythology?

In fact, this seems to be the case. That of Sicily features a Gorgon's head whose hair is made from snakes holding ears of wheat.

According to Greek legend the Gorgon was a terrible creature made up, in part, of three daughters of the Gods of the sea.

As well was a hair-do of snakes the creature possessed bronze hands, gold wings and wild boar's tusks. It lived at the ends of the earth (Sicily and the Isle of Man?) and could petrify a man with its glance, being also part Medusa.

As regards the 'trinacria' of Sicily the grain represents the fertility of the island and the three legs the extreme points of Sicily ie. Punta del Faro in the province of Messina, Capo Passero near Siracusa and Capo Lille west of Marsala.

Interestingly, the symbol of a man's leg bent at the knee was popular with Spartan warriors and represented power or force.

Ancient Greek linguists will pick up on the geographical significance of the term 'triskèles' meaning 'three promontories'.

So how did it ever end up in the Isle of Man? Apparently the Normans, who had already reached Sicily by the end of the 11th century, imported the symbol following their invasion of England in 1066.

The 'trinacria' replaced a previous Scandanavian symbol

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Brian with an Eye29-Jun-2008 12:42
Excellent, Marie! ~V~ I have wondered about this symbol since visiting the Isle of Man and your background information is enlightening.
laine8221-Jun-2008 22:37
Well seen, Marie. A tremendously colourful symbol.
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