These Stories From Greek Mythology Explain The Origins Of Picturesque Destinations

22nd March 2019

At the recent 2019 Wave Awards, Greece was named as the best cruise destination for this year. The beauty of a country that includes hundreds of islands scattered across the Aegean, Ionian and Mediterranean Seas is nothing new to us here at Star Clippers and so we have been offering Eastern Mediterranean cruises that visit a number of these destinations for many years.

From sailings that will take you to the filming locations of the smash hit Mamma Mia to those centred on a specific island group, there are plenty of itineraries to choose from. So, to inspire a visit, here are some stories from Greek mythology which explain the origins of some of these islands.

Skiathos and Skopelos

Skiathos

These two peaceful Sporades islands have a joint origin story that also explains the beginnings of the other main islands in this group, Alonnisos and Skyros. According to Greek mythology, their creation is down to two squabbling brothers named Otos and Ephialtes. The sons of Iphimedia and Poseidon would regularly behave like moody teenagers and their size (over 50 foot tall) meant that their fights often had major consequences. During one particular argument, the two threw rocks at each other. Missing their intended target, the rocks landed in the sea and become the Sporades Islands.

When visiting these two destinations, you’ll find spectacular Venetian ruins from the past and trendy shops that add a modern touch.

Santorini

Santorini

Santorini is one of the most popular and beautiful Greek islands that cruisers choose to visit and the story of how it came into existence is actually loosely linked to science. It starts when Jason and his Argonauts were on their way back from their expedition. Having stopped on the small island of Anaphe for the night, a man by the name of Euphemus dreamt he had made love to one of Triton’s daughters and she had become pregnant.

Knowing that Triton would be angry, she begged Euphemus to help her find somewhere to hide and have the baby. She asked him to take a pile of earth and throw it into the water and this is exactly what he did upon waking up. To his surprise, an island sprang up from the depths where the earth had landed and this is where Triton’s daughter gave birth. The child was named Theras and this is why Santorini is classically known as Thera.

When you consider that Santorini was actually created by volcanic activity which brought the land to the sea’s surface, it’s easy to see how the myth could have been invented to explain this ‘miracle’.

Lemnos

Myrina Lemnos

Another island with volcanic origins, Lemnos is a typical Star Clippers destination due to the fact that it is not overrun by tourists and still has an authentic feel to it. Its capital, Myrina, where the ship will dock, displays remnants from the Venetian and Ottoman empires and features a charming waterfront promenade lined with restaurants and shops.

Lemnos is also known as the island of blacksmithing and metal crafts, something that comes as a result of Hephaestus landing here when he was thrown from Mount Olympus. Depending on which derivation of the myth you read, the son of Hera and Zeus was cast out by one of his parents (either by Hera for being ugly or by Zeus for protecting his mother) and thrown from the mountain home of the Gods.

As he landed, Hephaestus injured his hip and this is why he is often depicted with a limp. The people of the island helped to nurse him back to health, though, and in return, he taught them his blacksmithing skills.

Poros

Poros Island

This small island south of Athens has become a weekend spot for people living in the capital but still offers relaxing beaches and a peaceful atmosphere. The whitewashed buildings contrast beautifully with the green of the pine forests and the blue of the glistening waters.

However, a romantic tragedy is one of the key tales from Greek mythology surrounding Poros. It is said that, whilst at war with the city of Megara, King Minas of Crete fell in love with the king of Megara’s daughter, Scylla. In a bid to curry favour with Minas, Scylla stole a lock of hair from her father’s head, thus removing his powers of immortality, and stole the keys to the city.

Once he overthrew Megara, King Minas shunned Scylla and journeyed back to Crete. Driven mad by love, she walked into the ocean and attempted to follow his ships before dying of exhaustion. The point at which she succumbed to the waves, off the coast of the mainland, is still called Cape Skili.


If you would like to discover more Greek mythology and history, talk to the team about booking an Eastern Mediterranean cruise. Call us on 0845 200 6145 or use our online chat.

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