The mythology of Lesvos

The mythology of Lesvos

According to the myths, the island was first populated by the descendants of Makareos, who was the son of Helios (Sun). This mythical king had five daughters: Mitilini, Mythimna, Issa, Antissa and Arisvi. He had also four sons: Eressos, Kydrolaos, Neandros and Leukippos and the principal towns and villages of Lesvos took their names from these children of Makareos. One of the sons-in-law of the king was Lesvos and it was from him that the island took its name. The reign of Makareos and his successors lasted until the flood of Deucalion, when the island was laid desolate.

Homer mentions the island in both ???The Iliad?? and ???The Odyssey??. It was here that Achilles and Ajax buried Palamides, the hero of the Trojan War. After the fall of the war, Menelaus, Diomides and Odysseus met in Lesvos to decide the manner of their return home. Achilles attacked the island many times. During one of these invasions along the south coast he captured the beautiful Brysiida and went into a rage when Agamemnon took her from him. Homer mentions that the seven women whom Agamemnon offered to Achilles to appease him were from Lesvos and “surpassed in beauty the entire race of women”.

The myth of Orpheus is well known. He was so skilled in music that even the animals and the stones were moved by his songs. His music made the men of Thrace leave their wives and stay by his side night and day just to listen to his melodies. The Maenads were so infuriated by this that they killed him and threw his dismembered body into the Evros River, and the waves brought his head and his lyre to the shores of Lesvos, near Antissa. The inhabitants buried his head with full honors and dedicated his lyre to the temple of Apollo. According to another version, his lyre was taken by the citharist of Lesvos, Terpander. In the area of Antissa is the place known as Orphykia and, it is said, the nightingales there have a sweeter song then anywhere else on earth.

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