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MYTHOLOGY OF THASSOS

One of the many erotic adventures of Zeus, the greatest god of the ancient Creeks, brought about the discovery of Thassos. That ancient times, Aginor was king of the east side of Phoenicia. He had three sons, Phoenix, Cilix and Cadmus, and one daughter, Europa.

On a spring day Zeus transformed himself into a bull, kidnapped the beautiful Europa and carried her on his back to the Dictaean Grotto Cave in Crete. There, transformed to a handsome eagle, Zeus coupled with Europa, and from that sacred union three sons were born: Minoas, the famous king of Crete, Radamanthos, the wise lawgiver, and Sarpidon, the first king of Lycia.


While Europa, hidden in Crete, was enjoying Zeus's favours, Aginor called his sons and his grandson Thassos. He ordered them to look everywhere for Europa and not to return unless they found her.

Phoenix set out towards the south. Cilix went north until he reached afertile land where he made himself king: since then it has been known as Kilikia.

After wandering through the Greek islands, Cadmus continued his search in the islands of Greece. He visited the oracle of Apollo at Delphi and consulted Pythia the priestess. Although he followed her advice, he was unable to find Europa. After passing through Phokis he came to Beotia, where he built an acropolis, Kadmia, and below it a town with broad avenues, which he named Thebes. 

Thassos, Aginor's grandson searched for Europe in various places until he came to this island. Captivated by its marvellous climate and lush vegetation and unable to return without Europa, he gave up his quest. He and his retinue settled on the island, which has borne his name ever since.

Herodotos, the greatest historian of antiquity, is categorical on this matter. He says the island is now called after that Phoenician Thassos. (Herodotos, Histories, 6.47.1). Because of its clear air and cool summer breezes, the ancient poets gave the island other names, such as Aeria or Leria. This name was also mentioned in the Delphic oracle received by the leader of the Parian colonists, Telesicles (680 BC): Don't tell the Parians, Telesicles, that I have ordered you to build on the island of Aeria a city that will be visible from all around. (Byz. 3n Thasos, Metneke Editions). It was also called Aethria, meaning clear blue sky, and Chrysia, a reference to the lustrous gleam of the gold (chrysos) once mined there.

Religion

 Religious belief of the Thasians, as of all the ancient Greeks, was centered on the twelve gods of Olympus. However, the island's patron was Heracles, a mystical god who may have had his origins not in the Greek halfgod Heracles (Hercules), but in the Phoenician god Melkarth. Special honors were reserved for the god of the sea Poseidon and the goddess of the hunt Artemis.

Dionysus, god of wine, together with his Satyrs, Silenoi and Maenads, were worshiped in orgiastic rites. The mysteries of Demeter, brought to Thassos by the Parian priestess Cleobia, were celebrated. There were also special feasts of Pythian Apollo, whose snowy white temple sparkled on the acropolis above the city.

 

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