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The Places of Greek Mythology

Guide to places and heroes of Greek mythology: Ulysses, Athena, Dionysus, Theseus, Centaurs, the Nine Muses, the Minotaur, the Oracle of Delphi, Naxos.

Ithaca - Ulysses

The Odyssey and the deeds of the hero Ulysses need no explanation. The long ten-year journey of Odysseus to return to his beloved Ithaca after the Trojan War. His courage and cunning allow him to eventually reach the greens of his island and face the ultimate challenge to reclaim his crown and his wife Penelope.

Cnosso, Crete - Labirinth and the Minotaur

King Minos of Crete had built his large and sumptuous palace in Knossos. But fate had reserved for him the Minotaur as a son, a monster with the body of a man and the head of a bull. Following the will of the oracle of Delphi, the Minotaur was locked up in a labyrinth and fed with 7 young men and 7 maidens of Athens every 9 years, as punishment for the defeat of the Athenians against the Minoans.

This changed when the hero Theseus decided to be one of the seven young Athenians and defeat the Minotaur. He was helped by Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos, who fell in love with Theseus and who gave him a ball of thread to mark his path in the labyrinth. Theseus found the Minotaur and killed him, successfully returning to the labyrinth entrance thanks to Ariadne's thread.

Charon - the river of the underworld

In the Epirus region is the Acheron River, today among the most beautiful natural landscapes of Greece, but considered in ancient times the gate to the underworld. Charon was the ferryman who carried the souls of the newly deceased across the river to the kingdom of Hades for the cost of a coin. Only a few brave characters, such as Hercules, Theseus and Orpheus, crossed the Acheron River and managed to return to the world of the living.

Athens - Race between Athena and Poseidon

The goddess Athena gave her name to the city after competing with Poseidon. In fact whoever offered the most precious gift would have the honor of becoming its patron.

Poseidon started the race and struck the rock of the Acropolis with his trident, generating an inexhaustible supply of water. But his source of water was salty and therefore undrinkable for the Athenians. Athena, on the other hand, caused an olive tree to appear in bloom which was considered much more precious for its oil.

Cape Sounion - King Aegeus and Theseus

After the contest with Athena, Poseidon was however honored by the Athenians with a magnificent temple built at Cape Sounion. The myth tells that King Egeus went every day to the promontory waiting for the return of his son Theseus, who had gone to Crete to fight the Minotaur. He had asked Theseus to hoist white sails upon his return if he defeated the monster. Unfortunately Theseus approaching Athens forgot to change the sails and King Aegeus jumped from the cliff in desperation. From that moment, in memory of the late King, the sea would be known as the Aegean.

Mount Pelio - Centaurs

On Mount Pelion lived the Centaurs, very strong and wise beings, with a human body from the waist up but with the legs and hooves of a horse. Chiron was considered the wisest and most just of all the Centaurs and was the master of many heroes such as Hercules, Theseus, Jason, Ulysses, Achilles and Peleus.

The region takes its name from the latter. It was Chiron who organized the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, to which all the gods were invited except the goddess of discord who, furious, sneaked in and placed a golden apple with the inscription "to the most beautiful". Apple that will lead to the challenge between Hera, Athena and Aphrodite and which triggered the events that led to the Trojan War.

Dion and Mount Olympus - Zeus

The sanctuary of Zeus was founded on the slopes of Mount Olympus in Dion. This was the spiritual and religious center of Alexander the Great, hosting important theatrical, musical and sporting events in honor of Zeus and his daughters, the Nine Muses. In fact, it was right here that, after the staging of one of the most memorable games and sacrifices to Zeus, Alexander the Great's victorious campaign to conquer the vast Persian empire began.

Click here to read the article.

Naxos - Dionysus and Ariadne

On their way back to Athens after slaying the Minotaur, Theseus and Ariadne made a stop in Naxos. Despite the promise to marry Ariadne, Theseus left her on the island. Distraught by her pain, she fell asleep on a beach, where Dionysus met her and fell in love with her immediately. After marrying her, Dionysus took Ariadne to Mount Olympus and Zeus made her immortal.

Delphi - The oracle of the ancient world

It was first known as Pytho, after the fearsome serpent-dragon who lived there, called Python. The monster had been sent by Hera against the goddess Leto, who had become pregnant by Zeus with the twins Apollo and Artemis. When Apollo grew up, he killed Python despite the fact that murder was forbidden by divine law and was banished as a punishment. Upon his return Apollo founded his temple and oracle at Pytho and, in memory of the slain dragon, the priestess of the sanctuary was named Pythia. The Temple of Apollo at Delphi became the most important oracle of the ancient world, delivering prophecies 9 times a year.

Nemea - Hercules and the Lion

The first and most famous of Hercules' labors was to kill a lion that terrorized Nemea. The lion was impervious to mortal weapons, his skin was golden and his claws could tear through the strongest armor. After following the lion through the Nemean countryside, Hercules found his den, which he noted had two entrances. He blocked one with stones and entered the other, surprising the lion and beating him with a club. In the fight, the lion cut off Hercules' finger. Realizing that no weapon could defeat the beast, he strangled it with his bare hands.

Hercules put on the golden skin of the lion to demonstrate his success before the King of Mycenae who had challenged Hercules to the labors, but he, mistaking him for the lion, hid. While the lion was honored by the gods who raised him to the sky, forming the constellation of Leo.



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