According to Mythology, Arethusa was one of the 50 Nereids, the daughters of Nereus the "old man of the sea", and the Oceanid Doris. These beautiful women were always friendly and helpful towards sailors fighting perilous storms and the treacherous sea.
They tried to slow the winds and the tempests down and did everything possible to make the sailors' journey fast and easy. One popular version of the legend tells that the lovely Arethusa was a companion of the goddess Artemis.
They loved to wander freely in forest and field enjoying the beauty of nature. Arethusa noticed a shimmering river and decided to take a bath. The river god Alpheus was roused by the sight of Arethusa and immediately fell in love with her, but she did not respond to his advances. So Arethusa was chased over the sea, all the way to Sicily where she found refuge on the island of Ortygia.
She called upon Artemis to rescue her and Artemis helped her out by transforming her into a spring or fountain. Alpheus, however, would not be denied, and changed himself to a river, thus uniting with Arethusa pouring through the fountain.
And this is how the Nereid Arethusa became identified with a now legendary spring.