Eruption of Santorin (Thera) and Greek Myths
The Santorini volcanic archipelago
is made up of five islands located in the Aegean Sea between Greece and
Crete. The two larger islands are called Thera and Therasia and the
three smaller islands are called Aspronisi, NeaKamen, and Palaea.
(Zeiling de Boer and Sanders, 2002).
of Santorini (Courtesy of Santorini-Web).
1: Theseus and the Minotaur
Athens was once a Mycean City ruled by King Minos.
is said that Poseidon gave a great bull to King Minos as a gift. The
kings' wife, Pasiphae, fell in love with the bull and seduced him, the
result was the Minotaur. When King Minos discovered the Minotaur he
locked him in a great maze (this maze is thought to possibly be the
palace at Knossos.
Minos had rule over much of the Mediterranean, and when his
son, Androgeus was killed by the Athenians he forced them
to send a tribute of seven men and seven women Crete as prey for the
Theseus, son of the Athenian
King Aegeus, volunteered to go to Crete, where he defeated the
Minotaur, lead the
people out of the maze, and freed the Athenians in Crete. (Zeiling de
Boer and Sanders, 2002).
It is said that this myth could
reflect the fall of the Minoan
2: Theseus killing the Minotaur
Myth 2: Jason
retrieved the golden fleece,
he was traveling near Crete
and Thera (the
On his way to Crete
stopped from getting close to the island by the island
guardian, a giant
named Talos, who was
made of bronze. Talos
was almost indestructible except for a weak spot near
his ankle. Talos stood
on the mountain top and threw
rocks at ships on the sea. Hephaestus, god of fire and metal working,
had made Talos for King
Minos to keep
intruders away from his kingdom. Talos
could make himself very
hot, he would then grab intruders killing them.
When the Argonauts came upon the island they had to run away from the
being throw at them. As they were fleeing, Medea,
Jason's wife, cast a spell on Talos
vision. As Talos was
preparing to throw another rock,
he slipped and fell, all his vital fluid leaked out and he died.
(Zeiling de Boer and Sanders,
could be a mythical
representation of Thera.
Talos is also known as
Circinus, the circle, which could represent the shape of the island.
could be volcanic bombs, and the leaking of his vital fluids could be
leaking out (Zeiling de
Boer and Sanders, 2002).
Argonauts left Talos,
they were enveloped in
darkness, which could have been the ash cloud.It
was also said that Talos
had a son, Leukos (the
white one). Leukos
drove away the king of Crete and destroyed parts of the Island.
Leukos could represent
the white ash that covered Crete.
Talos also had a
Kleisithera, or key of Thera
(Zeiling de Boer and
heard about the lost city of Atlantis
and there is a lot of speculation as to the location of the lost city.
location is in the Atlantic Ocean near the mouth of the Mediterranean
Sea (Vitaliano, 1973). Another
is Santorini and the island of Crete (Zeiling de Boer and Sanders,
2002). Greek seismologist Angelos
Galanopoulos proposed that the island
was Atlantis in 1969 (Christopher,
2001). The city of Akrotiri was
found on Santorini by
archaeologist, and this could be the fabled city Plato was referring to
first person to write about this great city. He heard the story from
else, who heard it from his grandfather, etc. Atlantis was a prosperous
full of wealth and peace. They built great ships and traded throughout
(Zeiling de Boer and
of the myths
described about Atlantis seem to follow closely with Crete
and the Minoans, including their sudden demise (Zeiling
de Boer and Sanders, 2002).
Atlantis is hard to predict by using the ancient texts. Plato could be
about his dates, or the city could have never existed at all. The
between Santorini and Atlantis does seem to fit in that an ancient city
into the sea due to the collapse of the caldera. If this is the great
city of Atlantis
then it will
take a lot more then theory to prove it.
- Christopher, Kevin. Atlantis: No Way, No How, No
Created 2001. Accessed May 1, 2006.
- Labyrinth of Crete: The Myth of the Minotaur.
Created 1997. Accessed May 1, 2006.
- Shepard, David. Santorini (Thira).
Created 2000. Accessed May 1, 2006.
- Vitaliano, Dorothy B, Legends of the
Earth, their geologic origins. Indiana University Press,
- Zeilinga de Boer, Jelle and Donald Theodor
Sanders. Volcanoes in Human History, The Far
Reaching Effects of Major Eruptions. Princeton University
Press, New Jersey, p. 47-73. 2002.
Volcano Myths, Legends, and Folklore
May 2, 2006
SpSt 438 Volcanism: A Planetary Process I