Ever wondered where the name Mykonos might come from? According to Greek mythology, Mykonos owes its existence to the island of Delos. Here we delve into the myth that tells of some brutal events which quite literally shaped the island.
Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, god of the sun, was tormented for years by fearful mythical creatures, commonly known as giants. Homer describes them as appalling and insolent but something tells us they were even worse. In Homer’s Odyssey, the giant Polyphemus would eat one of Ulysses’s men every night before sleeping. One day, when asked his name, Ulysses was smart enough to reply ‘Nobody’. In order to save the rest of his men, he hardened a wooden stake in the fire, blinded the giant whilst he was sleeping and then escaped hidden under a flock of sheep. When Polyphemus started shouting ‘He blinded me!’ and the rest of the giants asked ‘Who? Who blinded you?’ he replied ‘Nobody’ and thus nobody believed him.
For many years the island of Delos stood abandoned as no one dared to approach it, fearful of their lives. Fortunately, that didn’t last forever. When assigned his 12 labours, Hercules fought the giants and threw them into the sea. To spare himself the tragedy of having to see his dead sons dishonored in their burial like this, Poseidon, god of the sea, petrified them. The island of Mykonos thus emerged, made up of the stones that were formed following the deaths of these fearsome giants.
Amazed by this act, Apollo sent his own family to inhabit the island and named it after his grandson, Mykons, who grew up to become a glorious hero. However, Mykons and Hercules were not the only heroes to cross the island. During the Greek revolution in 1821, one of the greatest female figures in Greek history fought for her country against the Ottoman Empire. To this day, the most heroic and revolutionary figure of Mykonos is a woman: Manto Mavrogenous. She financed the revolution, participated in secret revolutionary organizations and managed to bring together the troops in order to revolt against the enemy.
Manto Mavrogenous and her fiery determination was also the reason why pirates disappeared from the Aegean. She made the naval force of the island so strong that nobody dared to come near it. A bit like the giants I mentioned above, only for a good reason.
Of course, heroes still visit the island; only, today, we might call them celebrities. Mykonos has become a well-loved spot amongst Hollywood A-listers – whether bathing in glorious sun and crystal clear waters along the pristine beaches or exploring the many chic boutiques bursting with Prada, Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. A far cry from the slaughtering of terrifying giants.
So if you feel enchanted by this island, its mythical history and all it has to offer for today’s discerning traveller, why not come and explore. Eat, dance, laugh, have fun and don’t forget to visit Delos…the birthplace of this fascinating legend.
Written by Elena Cami, intern at Grace Hotels, Spring 2016
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