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AEGEAN ISLANDS

Naxos

An ancient myth recorded by Apollodorus and Stephanus of Byzantium claims that the first settlers of Naxos were Thracians. Boreas’s son Butes led the Thracians to Naxos. Women were scarce on the island at that time, so the Thracians went to Thessaly looking for a woman for Butes. They found Coronis, the governess of Dionysus, there and Butes slept with her against her will. This caused the wrath of Dionysus, who made him insane and finally drove him to his death. His Thracian companions stole other women, among who were Aloeus’s wife, Iphimedeia and the daughter of Pancrates, and returned to Naxos. They declared Agassamenus their king and he married Iphimedeia. Aloeus was furious and he sent his sons, Otus and Ephialtes, to Naxos. They conquered the island and drove away the Thracians. They also renamed the island that was called Strongyle at that time Dia. Naxos got its current name 20 years later when the Carians came to the island from Latmus of Asia Minor led by Naxos, son of Polemon.

According to another ancient myth, Theseus abandoned Minos’s daughter, Ariadne on Naxos on his return home from Crete. Dionysus fell in love with her on the island and took her from Mount Drion (Zas) to Olympus. Archaeologists have found traces of human habitation in the cave of Zas dating from the Stone Age (4th millennium BC) to the Classical Period. Furthermore, findings indicating habitation during the Early Cycladic period (3rd millennium BC) were unearthed at Kokinovrachos of Grotta, next to the present Chora of the island. Based on these findings, it is safe to say that Naxos was a wealthy and prosperous island during that period. Apart from that, the ancient city found at Grotta and the cemeteries at Aplomata and Kamini indicate that the Mycenaeans lived on the island after 1400BC.

 

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