1. The mythical world of Chania

Ancient Kydonia was a famous city in ancient times. Homer lists the city among the most important of ancient Crete while Strabo, an ancient Greek geographer,

informs us that Minos, the  legendary king of Crete, founded the city and appointed it as the capital of one of the three regions, which divided the island.

Pausanias and Stephanus preserve an interesting version making Kydonia the foundation of Kydon.

Given the name of the oikist, seems reasonable to assume that the city of Kydonia was originally a Kydonian settlement.

According to Pausanias, the Cretans themselves say that Kydonia was named after the hero Kydon, son of Hermes and Akakallis, daughter of Minos; this was also the version provided by the Milesian historian Alexander Polyhistor in his Kretika, with the addition that Akakallis bore Kydon to Hermes, and Naxos to Apollo. More important is a variant of this tradition, without attribution, preserved in Stephanos of Byzantium’s Ethnika: “Kydonia, a city in Crete, formerly known as Apollonia; derived from Kydon, son of Apollo and Akakallis, daughter of Minos.”  The importance of Apollo, father of Kydon, in Kydonian cult is well attested in the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods. The earliest evidence comes from a Kydonian public dedication to Apollo, Artemis, and Leto of the early 4th century b.c.  

According to legend, his mother left him in the forest and the infant, was suckled by a she-wolf, or hound since stories of infants nourished by animals are common in Greek and Roman mythology (representations are found on the coins of Kydonia). This myth possibly refers to Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, who also raised by a wolf.

Moreover, the Arkadian version of the myth narrates that Kydon came to Crete as an infant, (Paus. viii 53, 4) so it would not be surprising if he was thought to have been taken care of by an animal.

In another version of the myth, Pausanias informs us that  Kydon was the son of Tegeati, founder of the city of Tegea in Arcadia, and had two brothers Archidio and Gortyn. The brothers eventually moved to Crete and founded the cities: Kydonia,  Katreas and Gortys.

The Bull of Crete

The bull was one of the sacred symbols of ancient Crete. This animal emerged from the waves. According to the legend, Minos had  promised Poseidon  to sacrifice the bull that the god had sent.

When the bull appeared from the sea, Minos was impressed by its beauty and chose not to sacrifice it to Poseidon. Instead he offered another animal in its place and then hid the bull in his herds, hoping to fool the God.

However, Poseidon was furious with Minos for breaking his promise. In his anger, he made the bull rampage all over Crete. Hercules was the one who caught the bull alive and brought him to his uncle Eurystheus at Mycenae, completing  his seventh labor. When Hercules got to Crete, he easily wrestled the bull to the ground and drove it back to King Eurystheus. Eurystheus let the bull go free. It wandered around Greece, terrorizing the people, and ended up in Marathon. Theseus was the hero who captured and killed the Cretan Bull at Marathon.  

In another version of the myth, Poseidon made Minos' wife, Pasiphae, fall in love with the bull and give birth to the mythical monster, “Minotaur”.

Finally, the bull has been associated with the myth of the abduction of Europe. According to the legend, Zeus while watching Europe fell in love with her. In order to approach her, he transformed himself into a calm  and amazing strong bull, thinking that this was the way to  conquer her. She then approached the bull - Zeus and began to caress the animal fascinated by the beautiful stature and muscular strength. Soon she did not hesitate to ride the bull. Instantly, the bull charged off, with lightning speed and after crossing  the sea brought Europe to Crete.

They have found many objects in the form of a bull, thus declaring his love and relationships of the Cretans with this animal.


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