Mythology in Naxos

greek-mythology1 It is said, that Zeus himself was raised there, and was worshipped as Zeus Melosios, protector of the flocks. ¬†Apollo, who had a special connection with the island, was also worshipped as the protector of the flocks particularly of the rams and also of flowers. Ares, god of war, was once forced to take refuge from his pursuers in the depths of the earth of Naxos, ¬†where he hid in what the myth calls “the stone that eats iron” an obvious reference to emery. Above all, though, it was Dionysus who embodied all the bucolic charms and advantages of Naxos. It was here that the god was born and raised, according to the local myth, and all the myths agree that it was on Naxos that he met and married Ariadne, after she had been abandoned on the island by Theseus. The marriage between Ariadne and Dionysus, her death and the rebirth which that death foreshadows were the focus of wild celebrations on Naxos in antiquity, where this cult, focusing on the rip- ening, death and regeneration of nature was most highly developed. The first inhabitants of Naxos are said by the myths to have been Thracian, under Boutes, son of Boreas (the north wind). In his desire to find wives for his companions, Boutes took the rather extreme step of hunting some Maenads in Thessaly; he captured some, including Coronis and Iphimedeia, and brought them back to the island. The myths relate that the Thracians held Naxos for two hundred years, being succeeded by Carians from Asia Minor, whose king Naxos gave the island its name. Archaeological finds indicate that there was a fairly well-developed society on Naxos as early as the late 4th millennium BC, about the end of the Neolithic age . The first major flowering of civilisation on Naxos curred during the 3rd millennium and is known as Cycladic period, since it spread through all the islands in the group, Naxos at this time had a large population scattered in small settlements most of which were on the steep and less fertile eastern side of the island.The island was under some form of undisputed central control and it seems very likely that Naxos also ruled areas outside its own natural frontiers, particularly to the east and south where a number of islets would have acted as an obvious axis along which to expand typical settlement dating from this period has been excavated at the spot called Korfari ton Amygdalion, at Panormos. Grotta, the site on which the modern town of Naxos (Hora) stands, has yielded evidence a much larger and more developed settlement in the Cycladic age, with walls and stone houses, square shape and carefully built. Rich pottery finds have also come to light on the site. In fact, however, we know much more about the island’s cemeteries than we about its towns. The graves, which have been found all over the island, have yielded masterpieces of art and craftsmanship dating from the second half of the 3rd millennium, and the number and variety of discovered on Naxos are greater than for most other cycladic centres These finds include clay and marble vessels, metal objects and miniatures, and, above all the marble figurines so typical of Cycladic art, with their simplicity of form, clarity of line and austerity of style creations of rare if not unique sensitivity for the prehistoric era. These figurines are the best example of the Cycladic style of sculpture, the first real sculp- ture in Greece, even though the scale may be small and unlike the monumental creations to which one is centuries after the end of Cycladic civilisation as such, this sculpture was still being produced on Naxos.