Mythical Naxos

According to Greek mythology, the young Zeus was raised in a cave on Mt. Zas (“Zas” meaning “Zeus”). Homer mentions “Dia”; literally the sacred island “of the Goddess”.

One legend has it that in the Heroic Age before the Trojan War, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on this island after she helped him kill the Minotaur and escape from the Labyrinth. Dionysus (god of wine, festivities, and the primal energy of life) who was the protector of the island, met Ariadne and fell in love with her. But eventually Ariadne, unable to bear her separation from Theseus, either killed herself (according to the Athenians), or ascended to heaven (as the older versions had it). The Naxos portion of the Ariadne myth is also told in the Richard Strauss opera Ariadne auf Naxos.

The giant brothers Otus and Ephialtes figure in at least two Naxos myths: in one, Artemis bought the abandonment of a siege they laid against the gods, by offering to live on Naxos as Otus’s lover; in another, the brothers had actually settled Naxos.

It is also said that the sea god Poseidon was passing by Naxos whilst driving his chariot on the sea surface and is where he first laid eyes on his future wife, the nereid Amphitrite as she was dancing there.

Gate to Apollo's Temple

Temple of goddess Demeter

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