The Greek Islands And Their Mythological Stories

Photo of Claudia Rinaldi
9 February 2017

There are many ancient myths surrounding the islands of Greece. The mythology not only describes the characteristics of the islands, but also represents human traits and behaviors without filters, judgements or inhibition. Here are the mythological stories about five beautiful Cyclades islands.

Hermoupoli town in Syros | © Gourmet Project

Syros – saved by the dolphin

Ermoupoli, the fascinating capital of Syros, is also the Cyclades’ capital. Here, you can find the administrative headquarters of all the islands, surrounded by amazing, clear blue beaches. The myth of this island regards its first king, Koiranos. When his ship sank in the sea, between Paros and Naxos, a dolphin saved him and carried him to a cave, which is now named after him: Koiranion Andro.

Pirgos town in Tinos | © Gourmet Project

Tinos – a windy revenge

The highest mountain in Tinos is Tsikniàs (714 m). This is the place where Hercules, son of Zeus and one of the strongest men on earth, killed the sons of Vorias (god of the north winds). He was furious because they had abandoned the Argonauts when passing by Tinos on their way to Colchis (today’s Black Sea). The Argonauts were the most famous of all Greek heroes, recruited by Jason, heir to the throne of Iolcos. Their mission was to recover a Golden Fleece he needed to claim his kingdom. After the assassination, Vorias’ revenge was to blow a perennial (and very strong) northern wind over the island. You can still experience this wind when you visit.

Santorini’s Caldera | © Gourmet Project

Santorini – the nursery

Santorini’s birth is linked to the Argonauts, too. During their venture to recover the Golden Fleece, they landed in the Anaphe Island in the Aegean Sea. When there, Euphemus (son of Poseidon, the god of the sea) dreamed of making love to a nymph. Afterwards, she announced that she was pregnant and in need of a calm safe place to give birth. She gave Euphemus specific directions: to throw a clod of earth from Anaphe into the sea. When Euphemus woke up, he decided to follow the nymph’s instructions. He threw the clod of earth and, stunned, watched a miracle happen: the island of Santorini emerged from the sea. Thanks to Euphemus, you can now enjoy the magnificence of the island and have one of the best dining experiences of your life.

Naxos Portara | © Gourmet Project

Naxos – the heartbreaker

Theseus abandoned Ariadne in this island. He was the founder king of Athens and she was the daughter of king Minos of Crete. They met on one of Theseus adventures. He sailed to Crete to stop a harrowing tradition established by Minos. Every nine years he fed the Minotaur (his wife’s son, part man and part bull) with seven young men and seven young girls from Athens. When she saw him Ariadne felled immediately in love with Theseus. Therefore, she helped him escape from a labyrinth, where he had killed the Minotaur, her brother, and sailed away him. On their way back they stopped in the dreamy island of Naxos and went for a romantic walk. Theseus waited for her to fall asleep, and left. Fortunately, Dionysus (god of wine, ecstasy and fertility) found her, married her and gave her four children.

Sarakiniko beach, Milos | © Line Lasserre/Wikimedia Commons

Milos – ultimate love

The myth relating to this island is a little complicated. Aphrodite (the goddess of love and beauty) fell in love with Adonis (a beautiful demi-god). Adonis had a best friend, Milos, who was married to Pelia. Milos and Pelia had a son, named Milos after his father. When Ares (Aphrodite’s husband and god of war) found out that Aphrodite had an affair with Adonis, he killed him, under the guise of a giant boar. When Milos found out that his best friend had died, he killed himself. Pelia, fondly in love with her husband, killed herself too. No, this is not a telenovela, it’s a Greek myth. Aphrodite, deeply touched by these demonstrations of love, took Milos (the son) under her protection. She sent him to colonize a new island. The island became one of her homes, and she endowed her beauty to the land. She is probably still inspiring beauty and art in her homeland.