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Listed 13 sub titles with search on: Mythology for destination: "GORTYS Ancient city HERAKLIO".

Mythology (13)

Eponymous founders or settlers


It is also said that all the surviving sons of Tegeates, namely, Cydon, Archedius and Gortys, migrated of their own free will to Crete, and that after them were named the cities Cydonia, Gortyna and Catreus. The Cretans dissent from the account of the Tegeans, saying that Cydon was a son of Hermes and of Acacallis, daughter of Minos, that Catreus was a son of Minos, and Gortys a son of Rhadamanthys.

Gortys, a son of Tegeates and Maera, who, according to an Arcadian tradition, buik the town of Gortyn, in Crete. The Cretans regarded him as a son of Rhadamanthys. (Paus. viii. 53.2)

Ancient myths

The rape of Europe by Cretans

According to Persians story, some Greeks (they cannot say who) landed at Tyre in Phoenicia and carried off the king's daughter Europa. These Greeks must, I suppose, have been Cretans.


Europa (Europe)

  Europa, the daughter of Agenor, son of Poseidon and Telephassa, was so beautiful that Zeus fell in love with her and managed to make her his thanks to a daring plan. One beautiful morning, as Europa was playing in the flowery meadows with her female companions, Zeus approached the girls transformed into a white and tame bull, having a sweet expression and a golden crescent on his forehead. The girls were charmed by the presence of Zeus as a bull and started examining him with awe. Europa, smiling and joyful jumped on his back and immediately the animal rushed to the sea. Zeus had achieved his goal and was travelling with his beloved Europa on his back. To please the god, the seas went calm, dolphins were jumping around the divine bull and the Nereids were dancing.
  The final destination was Crete and in particular Gortyna where Zeus was joined in a "sacred marriage" with Europa, beneath a plane tree which has never lost its leaves ever since. It is interesting that the coins of Gortyna found had maintained the memory of this scene. One can see Europa seated on the trunk of the sacred tree, while on the other side of the coin the bull looks at her for one last time.
  The union of Europa and Zeus resulted in the birth of three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. Then Zeus gave Europa for marriage to the king of Crete, Asterios, and they adopted the children of Zeus, whom they raised with great love, and who inherited the kingdom of Asterios.
  Upon death, Europa was honoured by gods and man alike. It was also said that one of the continents on earth was named after her as Europe. She was worshipped with the name of Hellotis and at the celebrations, the Hellotia a celebration of joy for the blossoming of nature, people used to weave wreaths around her thighs as an indication of fertility.
  It was believed that Europa was initially a nymph, daughter of Oceanus. This version coincides with the myth of cosmogony in that the lands arose from the ocean. According to another similar version, Europa seems to be the personification of a brilliant meteor or a bright star. Europa, the daughter of Telephassa, "the one who shines from afar", might have been a figure for the moon, each morning eloping with the solar bull and each night appearing brilliant on the dark sky.

This text is cited Nov 2003 from the Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs URL below.

Europa, (Europe). A daughter of Agenor (called by some Phoenix), king of Phoenicia. Zeus, becoming enamoured of her, according to the old legend, changed himself into a beautiful white bull, and approached her, "breathing saffron from his mouth," as she was gathering flowers with her companions in a mead near the seashore. Europa, delighted with the tameness and beauty of the animal, caressed him, crowned him with flowers, and at length ventured to mount on his back. The disguised god immediately made off with his burden, plunged into the sea, and swam with Europa to the island of Crete, landing not far from Gortyna. Here he resumed his own form, and beneath a plane-tree soothed and caressed the trembling maiden. The offspring of their union were Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. Asterius, king of Crete, subsequently married Europa, and reared her sons.

This text is from: Harry Thurston Peck, Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. Cited Nov 2002 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks

Having now run over the family of Inachus and described them from Belus down to the Heraclids, we have next to speak of the house of Agenor. For as I have said, Libya had by Poseidon two sons, Belus and Agenor. Now Belus reigned over the Egyptians and begat the aforesaid sons; but Agenor went to Phoenicia, married Telephassa, and begat a daughter Europa and three sons, Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix. But some say that Europa was a daughter not of Agenor but of Phoenix. Zeus loved her, and turning himself into a tame bull, he mounted her on his back and conveyed her through the sea to Crete. There Zeus bedded with her, and she bore Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys; but according to Homer, Sarpedon was a son of Zeus by Laodamia, daughter of Bellerophon. On the disappearance of Europa her father Agenor sent out his sons in search of her, telling them not to return until they had found Europa. With them her mother, Telephassa, and Thasus, son of Poseidon, or according to Pherecydes, of Cilix, went forth in search of her. But when, after diligent search, they could not find Europa, they gave up the thought of returning home, and took up their abode in divers places; Phoenix settled in Phoenicia; Cilix settled near Phoenicia, and all the country subject to himself near the river Pyramus he called Cilicia; and Cadmus and Telephassa took up their abode in Thrace and in like manner Thasus founded a city Thasus in an island off Thrace and dwelt there.

This extract is from: Apollodorus, Library and Epitome (ed. Sir James George Frazer, 1921). Cited Nov 2003 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains comments & interesting hyperlinks.


Asterion or Asterius (Asterios), a son of Teutamus, and king of the Cretans, who married Europa after she had been carried to Crete by Zeus. He also brought up the three sons, Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys whom she had by the father of the gods. (Apollod. iii. 1., &c.; Diod. iv. 60)

Europa (Europe) Continent

Name.--The earliest mention of Europe by Greek writers, as a division of the globe, occurs in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo (vv. 250, 251. and 290, 291), where it is distinguished from Peloponnesus and the Greek islands. Aeschylus (Fragm. 177) alludes to a threefold partition of the earth, and mentions the river Phasis, in the region of Mount Caucasus, as the boundary between Asia and Europe, and the Columns of Hercules, at the opposite extremity of the continent, as its boundary on the side of Libya. Libya and Europe,indeed,are sometimes represented as one continent. (Agathem. Geograph. ii. 2; Sall. B. Jug. 17; Lucan ix.411). Respecting the origin of the name Europa various hypotheses have been started.
(1). The vulgar opinion, sanctioned by the mythologers, was, that our continent derived its appellation from Europa, the broad-browed daughter of the Phoenician king Agenor. But such an etymology satisfied neither geographers generally, nor Herodotus in particular, who indeed wonders (iv. 45) how it should have come to pass that the three main divisions of the earth took their names from three females respectively--Asia, Libya, and Europa. The connection of Europe with Phoenicia is obvious: Tyrian and Sidonian mariners were the earliest explorers of the bays and coast of the Mediterranean, and among the first colonisers of its principal islands and its western shores. They were the first also who passed through the Columns of Hercules, surveyed the coasts of Spain and Gaul, and entered the German Ocean and perhaps the Baltic sea. And the name Europa bears a close resemblance to the Semitic word Oreb --the land of sunset. (Bochart, Phaleg. 34.) Such an appellation the Phoenicians of Asia might justly give to the regions westward of the Aegean, even as the Italian navigators, in the middle ages, looking from the opposite quarter, denominated the eastern extremity of the Mediterranean the Levant, or the region of sunrise.
(2). Agathemerus (Geograph. i. 1. p. 3) says that Eurus, the SE. wind, is the root of Europa: and Heyd (Etymol. Versuch. p. 33) derives the name from eurus, and apia, a Scythian word denoting, as he says, the earth or land generally. Perhaps, however, the most satisfactory explanation of the term is that of Hermann (ad Hone. Hymn. l. c.); at least, it is less vague than any of the foregoing. The poet is speaking of the inhabitants of Peloponnesus and the islands, and Europe; of the latter, as distinct apparently from the former two. The Homerid bard was most probably a Greek of Asia Minor. Now, within a few hours' sail from the Asiatic mainland, and within sight of the islands of Thasus and Samothracia, stretched the long and deeply embayed line of the Thracian shore--an extent of coast far exceeding that of any of the Greek islands, or even of Peloponnesus itself. Europe, then, as Hermann suggests, is the Broad Land (eurus ops), as distinguished from the Aegean islands and the peninsula of Pelops. It is remarkable too that, under the Byzantine empire, one among the six dioceses of Thrace was called Europa, as if a vestige of the original designation still lingered on the spot. It may here be noticed that in mythical genealogy Europa is the wife of Zeus, while Asia is the sister or wife of Prometheus: and thus apparently the line of Zeus and the Olympian divinities is connected with our continent; and the line of Prometheus, Epimetheus, Atlas, e.c.t., or the Titanic powers, with Asia and Libya.

This extract is from: Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) (ed. William Smith, LLD). Cited November 2004 from The Perseus Project URL below, which contains interesting hyperlinks


Taurus (The Bull)

  Europa was the beautiful daughter of the king of Tyre, Agenor. Zeus (Jupiter), the King of the gods according to Greek mythology, saw Europa as she was gathering flowers by the sea a nd immediately fell in love with her. Zeus transformed himself into the form of a magnificent white bull and appeared in the sea shore where Europa was playing. The great bull walked gently over to where Europa stood and knelt at her feet. The appearance and movements of the bull were so gentle that Europa spread flowers about his neck and dared to climb upon his back. But suddenly, the bull rushed over the sea abducting Europa. Only then the bull revealed its true identity and took Europa to the Mediterranean island of Crete. There, Zeus cast off the shape of the white bull, and back into his human form, made Europa his lover beneath a simple cypress tree. Europa became the first queen of Crete and had by Zeus three sons. At last, Zeus reproduced the shape of the white bull, used by Zeus to seduce Europa, in the stars. Even today we can recognize its shape in the constellation Taurus.

Europa, the moon of Zeus

Europa is named after the beautiful Phoenician princess who, according to Greek mythology, Zeus saw gathering flowers and immediately fell in love with. Zeus transformed himself into a white bull and carried Europa away to the island of Crete. He then revealed his true identity and Europa became the first queen of Crete. By Zeus, she mothered Trojan war contemporaries Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon. Zeus later re-created the shape of the white bull in the stars which is now known as the constellation Taurus.

Gods & heroes related to the location


Atymnius (Atumnios or Atumnos), a son of Zeus and Cassiopeia, a beautiful boy, who was beloved by Sarpedon (Apollod. iii. 1.2). Others call him a son of Phoenix (Schol. ad Apollon. ii. 178). He seems to have been worshipped at Gortyn in Crete together with Europa. Two other mythical personages of this name occur in Quint. Smyrn. iii. 300, and Hom. Il. xvi. 317, &c.

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