+ Cycladia Travel Guides | Mythology

Kos Name
Kos has a history that goes back 3.500 years ago, while according to the Greek mythology it’s linked to the most famous hero of Ancient Greece: the invincible demigod Hercules. As most of the Greek isles, Kos had its share of different names throughout centuries. First it was “Kinnis” after the Titan Kinnos, who along with his brothers Phoedus and Chios sought refuge in the island after being attacked by the mighty Olympian Gods. Then it was “Meropis”, from Meropas, who was the prehistoric king of the island. It also got the name “Karis”, which in Ancient Greek means Shrimp, obviously from its shape and this name was also imprinted on an ancient coin found on the island. According to some historians Kos got its name from “Koon”, which was the name of King Triopa’s daughter, while according to others the island’s name derives from the Karian word “Kion”, which means Sheep, either due to Kos’s shape or maybe because many sheep lived there.   
Hercules’ ties with Kos
According to the Myths Hercules, after his legendary expedition to Troy, fell in a wild storm sent by Hera. We should note that Hera hated Hercules because he was the offspring of her husband Zeus and the beautiful Alkminae. Hera had to nurse baby Hercules and this is how her deep hatred was arose. Only one boat survived the terrible storm and Hercules along with a few friends managed to swim to the nearest coast which was in today’s cape Gourniatis in Kos.

The gang started wandering around the island and came across Antagoras, a shepherd. They demanded food and help from him, but the young, strong shepherd refused. Hercules and Antagoras got into a long fight and soon various companions of both of them were involved in the fight. Antagoras’ friends were from the city of Antimachia. After a while, Hercules and his friends escaped and sought refuge in the house of a Thracian woman who helped them disguise. Dressed as women, they arrived in the town of Pyli where they were welcomed and received the locals’ help. This is how Antimachia and Pyli declared war to one another. Hercules fought and killed Antimachia’s king Eurypylos. When the people of Antimachia elected Halkon as their new king, Hercules married his sister Halkiopi who gave birth to Thessalos. Thessalos later became the king of Kos and Nisyros.

Island myth
According to the Greek Mythology, the Titans and the Giants dominated the universe before the Olympian Gods. Their leader Kronos was in fact the father of Zeus. When Zeus and his bothers decided to expel Kronos from his throne, a hard and violent war took place over the Mediterranean. During one of these battles, Poseidon chased Giant Polyvotis all the way to Kos. An angry Poseidon detached a huge rock from the island and threw it upon the Giant. Polyvotis, of course, didn’t die since he was immortal, but he was pinned under the rock. Angry as he was, he continued to snarl and breathe fire. And this is how the volcanic island of Nisyros was born. According to recent geological surveys, Nisyros was indeed detached from Kos after a very strong earthquake. And this is how mythology always gets interwoven with reality.

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