According to a myth, Anafi’s name is connected to the island’s emergence from the sea and the Argonauts, who found shelter on it, as they returned from Colchis. Ancient mythographers claim that Apollo heard the desperate calls of the Argonauts during a storm and threw an arrow at the sea. A thunder struck the sea and the island emerged from the seabed bathed in the thunder’s light. The Argonauts got off on the island and built an altar in honor of Apollo Aegletes (the one that glows). The name Anafi derives from the Greek verb ‘anafeno’ which means “bring to light”.
The theory of a 19th century linguist, according to which the island’s name comes from a Phoenician word meaning “shady land”, is disputed, despite the fact that ancient writers mention that the island had many trees.
According to other myths, Anafi was first inhabited by the Phoenicians, who had Memvliarus as their leader. Mevliarus reached the island while sailing along with Cadmus in search of Europa. Thus, “Memvliarus” became the name of the island and it was also abbreviated to “Vliarus”. Anafi was connected to the cult of Apollo Astealtas which is found only on this island. In fact, the foundations of his ancient temple are located at the same spot where the monastery of Kalamiotissa is situated today. There were also altars to Artemis, Aphrodite, Pythian Apollo, Asclepius and Zeus the possessor (Ctesius) on the island.