Sequana was the goddess of the river Seine and also the Celtic name for the river. At the source of the Seine is a spring (Fontes Sequanae) where Sequana was worshipped as early as 500 BC. Water—particularly the water of springs—was, to the Gauls, a source of healing and regeneration. A shrine to Sequana was established there and later maintained by the Romans after the conquest of Gaul. The Romans built two temples to Sequana at the site, one included a pool to take in the healing waters. A small bronze statue from that era depicts what is assumed to be the goddess wearing Roman robes and standing in a duck-shaped boat.
Dedications made to Sequana at her temple included large vessels filled with metal engravings and wooden carvings in the form of human body parts meant to be cured by the goddess. Pilgrims were depicted as carrying offerings to her including coins, fruit, or a favorite pet.
In 1864 officials in the city of Paris bought the land around the source of the Seine to celebrate the river that runs through their city. They constructed a grotto around the ancient Roman pool and placed a new statue of Sequana there. It is a classic nude, and she is seen holding grapes to reflect a Roman myth where Sequana is described as a daughter of Bacchus. In this story she is a nymph turned into a river by her father to thwart a love-struck Neptune.
Carl Lucania’s short play, The Crossing, takes place in August 1944, after the invasion of Normandy in World War II. American and allied forces are pushing east, but must first cross the Seine in order to liberate Paris and eventually take Berlin. A soldier must convince a world-weary goddess that his mission is worthy before he can build a make-shift bridge to get across. I want to portray the aspect of the goddess as healer and protector who is affronted by war and examine how a place can have special powers of its own.
SEQUANA, or THE CROSSING by Carl Lucania
Directed by Sophia Di Paola
Staged Reading on November 9, 2019 at The EXIT Theatre
Carl Lucania got in on the ground floor and has performed in all the SF Olympians Festivals, save one. He also reprised a role in the first Olympians’ script ever to be fully produced in No Nude Men’s 2011 production of Bennet Fisher’s Hermes. Carl studied theater and music at SF State and is grateful that he still gets the opportunity to run around and play in the local theater scene with so many talented folks. He has written one other short play for San Francisco Theater Pub, has at least one more stuck in a drawer, and recently released an EP of original songs as part of an acoustic duo called Lowlight. He’s been a fan of classical Greek theater and mythology since he picked up The Oresteia in high school and realized that his family wasn’t quite so messed up after all. He has also had major roles in both The Frogs and Lysistrata by Aristophanes. Carl was reluctantly dragged to Paris for the first time by a close friend almost 30 years ago and, like nearly everyone he knows, was smitten with the place. And, never one to shy away from a cliché, fell very much in love there many years later with the man who is now his husband. He picked this goddess as an excuse to mediate a bit more on one of his favorite places.