Maja, the Eagle of Majella


In the first article I explained why the blog is called “Maja, the eagle of Majella”, but I did not tell you yet, where the name of our friendly eagle comes from. Each name is important and often reveals a story, as for example the name Majella. Do you know why this name? I’ll tell you soon about it. Make yourself comfortable, while discovering the Legend of Maja.

According to the Greek mythology, Maja was a goddess, the most beautiful among the seven Pleiades, who were born of Atlas and Pleione, becoming then the companions of the goddess of the hunt, Artemis.

paintinig of the PleiadesThe Pleiades (1885) by the Symbolist painter Elihu Vedder

Her renown is linked to her son Hermes, born of her union with Zeus, and he was the patron god of pilgrims and merchants, as well as inventor of the lyra. In the Greek mythology, the Pleaides died of a broken heart for the death of their other seven sisters, the Iadi, and were turned into

the homonymous constellations.

Constellation of the Pleiades

In the Latin and Italic mythology, however, Maja has a remarkable importance, and her bond with the Pleiades is uncertain. She was considered the divinity of the growing strength and the sprouting of nature and, together with Vulcan, with whom she had a giant son, she also represented fertility.
Maja lived in Phrygia, a territory that is currently part of Turkey and, due to the numerous wars, decided to flee along with her only son and some of her followers.
They crossed the sea, rafting until the coast of the village of Orton, the current Ortona, in Abruzzo, where they wrecked due to a storm that caused her son’s death. The survivors buried the corpse on the Gran Sasso mountain that since then had the form of a "sleeping giant".

the sleeping giant - the Gran Sasso
Maja, overwhelmed by the pain for her son's loss, began to wander the mountains, trying to find relief. But her anguish was so deep that Maja did not survive and she died of a broken heart.
The goddess's followers decided to bury her on a mountain facing the Gran Sasso so that the mother could continue to watch over her son. From then on, this mountain became the Holy Mother Mountain for the Abruzzo people and was named Majella in her honor. It is possible to observe the goddess's impact even on this mountain. Watching it from the Avella valley, the Pinna, a singular rocky spur overhanging the Pennapiedimonte village, recalls the shape of an elderly woman sitting and leaning forward, as to represent the goddess, dolorosa mater, still crying for the death of her son.

The Pinna of Pennapiedimonte

After this story, through this image, we also wish to honour this mountain, calling Maja our eagle, that will be our eyes and through its powerful glance it will tell us the secrets and the wonders of this mountain that hosts the goddess from which derives its name.

Thank you for having read this article and don’t miss the next one that will deal with one among the beautiful places you can visit in the beautiful Majella Park.

staff collaborator of the Farm Stay Il Portone, Borgo San Martino

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