Myths and Legends of Crete
29th July 2014
Crete is not only a beautiful island, but a fascinating one as well. It has been occupied for many centuries, and is associated with a great many myths and legends. When you stay in one of our holiday villas in Crete, with the stunning landscapes surrounding you and many ancient sites to explore, you’ll be in no doubt as to why!
According to mythology, the great god Zeus was born in Crete. His father, Cronos, had learned that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, as he had overcome his own father Uranus. Because of this, when his children were born he devoured them immediately. When Zeus, the youngest was born, his mother Rhea instead handed Cronos a stone wrapped in swaddling cloth – Cronos swallowed the stone, thinking it was the child, and Zeus was hidden in a cave. This, depending on the accounts, may either have been on Mount Ida or on Mount Dikte.
According to some stories, he was then raised by a goat named Amalthea, while armoured male dancers called Kouretes shouted and clapped their hands, making enough noise to hide the sounds of his cries from Cronos.
In other stories, he was raised by a nymph, Amalthea. Because Cronos ruled over the Earth, the heavens and the sea, she dangled the child on a rope from a tree; thus suspended between the three, he was invisible to his father.
Zeus, of course, grew to manhood and overthrew his father just as had been foretold, forcing him to disgorge his swallowed siblings. Together, they became the new gods of the Greek myths.
Zeus would go on to father King Minos, who became the powerful king of Crete and under whose reign one of the most famous stories of Greek mythology occurred.
The god Poseidon sent Minos a snow-white bull as a sign of his support; however, while Minos was supposed to sacrifice the bull to honour the god, he instead decided to keep it and sacrifice another bull. In anger, Poseidon sought revenge. He had Aphrodite use her power on King Minos’ wife Pasiphaë, making her fall deeply in love with the bull. Pasiphaë in turn had the famed craftsman Daedalus create a hollow wooden cow, into which she could climb to mate with the bull. Her offspring from this was the unnatural Minotaur; half man, half bull. As he grew, he became ferocious and Minos was forced to call upon Daedalus again to create the great Labyrinth in which to conceal and hold the Minotaur. There, every seven years, Minos sent seven youths and seven maidens from Athens to feed the monster’s unnatural appetites, which continued until the hero Theseus volunteered to be part of the sacrifice, and instead killed the Minotaur and led his companions to safety.
These are, of course, only two of the many myths and legends associated with this fascinating land – so why not come and visit for yourself, and explore the culture, both ancient and modern, of this most beautiful island?
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