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Bienvenu(e)s sur ce blog dédié aux mythes, contes et légendes classiques mais aussi à la fantasy et à la science fiction (notamment contes de SF et suites futuristes de légendes, dans mon livre "Les mémoires du Galaxytime").

The land lion and the sea lion of Saint Raphael

The sea and land lions (“le lion de mer” and “ le lion de terre ») in Saint Raphael (in the French Riviera between Cannes and Saint Tropez) are two famous small rocky islands that you can see from the seaside. Those impressive stones in the sea are the subject of a local legend. Here it is.

Once upon a time a princess. Her beauty gave rise to the jealousy of her stepmother. She made the princess sleep in before putting her on a kind of boat. That “drifting vehicle” finally arrived in front of the seaside of Saint Raphael. A beautiful local young man was having a walk on the beach. He saw the young woman on the boat and immediately fell in love with her. He took a small boat in order to reach his beloved. However Amphitrite (the famous mythological character, wife of Poseidon) wanted that young man to be her lover. She became furious and launched two huge monsters who were swimming quickly in order to attack the two young human lovers. We have very few informations concerning both monsters. They probably looked like dinosaurs or sorts of huge crocodiles.

It may be relevant to remind that Amphitrite, like the 48 other nereids (sea nymphs with fish tails, daughters of Nereus and Doris), already lived under the sea before she dwelt in the underwater palace with her husband.
Stories involving mythological characters may sometimes sound like a drama. Of course, Poseidon entered the scene. We don’t know why he acted : did he sympathize with the two young lovers or did he rather want to get his revenge on his wife ?

 According to the legend, Poseidon immediately stopped the two sea monsters who were charging at the two human lovers. The god of the seas changed the two monsters into stone blocks. Today both rocks are the famous “Lion de terre” (land lion) and “Lion de mer ”  (sea lion) of Saint Raphael. Nowadays tourists and divers know and love that place. Under the sea, at the level of the “lion de mer” there are two statues and an arch. They are called “statue de la Vierge » (Virgin statue) and “statue de la sirène » (siren statue). Of course you can notice that nereids and sirens often look similar.

As you know in the mythology, before she got married with Poseidon, Amphitrite tried to avoid him. Was it the very first reason for that local legendary episode of “lion de mer” and “ lion de terre” ?

The legend of “lion de terre” and the ” lion de mer ” of Saint Raphael is written in french by Mr. Roudillaud in his book called “Contes, légendes et récits de Saint Raphael” (Nouvelles éditions Sutton, 2007), Roudillaud mentions in his book that this legend is an extract from a local newspaper of the town of Saint Raphael. That newspaper is called "Le lien", n.65 july-august 2006.

Those two rocks (sea lion and land lion) have been staying in front of the seaside for centuries. What would be happening if one day in the future both huge stone monsters were waking up? We are sure they would’nt stay quietly staring at the beach… Let’s imagine such a situation might happen a long time after the 2010’s. It is the subject of a small short story in french called “Le retour des lions de terre et de mer ”. That short story is in my book called “Les mémoires du Galaxytime” (and is available here https://www.amazon.fr/mémoires-Galaxytime-diverses-galaxies-époques-ebook/dp/B00WY71VC8 . Please forgive me for that short moment of self-advertisement).

Hope you enjoyed that article, have a good day.

Benoit Rêveur, June 2019

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