On a perfect Aegean Sea morning our small ship dropped anchor and we were tendered in to the ancient island of Delos. I think larger ships would not have attempted such a delicate operation but perhaps so. Delos is one of the most important historical, mythological and architectural sites in Greece. The Ionians arrived here in 1000 BC bringing the worship of Apollo. Uninhabited today, it is revered as the birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis.
It was a crash course to be shown these ancient ruins and instructed in Greek mythology. We had to watch our step though as it was very rough territory strewn with rocks. The highlight was the magnificent Terrace of the Lions, guarding the birthplace of Apollo, the God of archery, music, dance, truth, prophecy, sun, light, healing and poetry. Artemis was the Greek goddess of hunting, wild nature and chastity. She was the sister of Apollo and the daughter of Zeus and born here to their mother Leto.
We headed back to the ship in time for lunch and then a short cruise to neigbouring Mykonos. We were now in the Cyclades group of Greek islands known for their beaches and whitewashed clifftop villages. Mykonos is dry and barren but its sandy beaches and dynamic nightlife make the island one of the most popular in the Cyclades. It was under Venetian rule from 1207 but eventually flourished as a self-sufficient society.
Known as the glitziest island in Greece, we were indeed in for a beautiful afternoon wandering around the intricate shopping streets, the waterfront bars and restaurants and hitting the town beach, all within easy walking distance.
Mykonos Town is a tangle of dazzling white alleys and cube-shaped houses. It was purposely built this way to defy the wind and pirates. One can easily get lost in the maze of narrow streets, shops and colourful bars and restaurants. It was truly the quintessential Greek island. We enjoyed some beach time with friends Judy and Bruce, visited the Folk Museum, saw the still working 16th century windmill and of course had a beer or two in “little Venice”, the colourful bar area overhanging the sea.
Truly a gorgeous place to visit this Mykonos, we would love to come back someday and stay awhile.
Artemis is one of the most venerated of Greek god’s. Her temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world whose ruins are in Ephesus. She vowed to remain a virgin and help mothers bare the pain of childhood. She also was good with bow and arrow and became the goddess Diana in Roman times.
A famous myth about her according to Lamar Ronald Lacey’s The Myth of Aktaion: Literary and Iconographic Studies, is that Actaeon was the hunting companion of the goddess who, seeing her naked in her sacred spring, attempts to force himself on her. For this hubris, he is turned into a stag and devoured by his own hounds. However, in some surviving versions, Actaeon is a stranger who happens upon her. According to the Latin version of the story told by the Roman Ovid having accidentally seen Artemis (Diana) on Mount Cithaeron while she was bathing, he was changed by her into a stag, and pursued and killed by his fifty hounds. Different tellings also diverge in the hunter’s transgression, which is sometimes merely seeing the virgin goddess naked, sometimes boasting he is a better hunter than she.