In the prefecture of Rethymno two are the main areas which are connected with the Cretan Mythology. Ideon Andron, a cave at the plateau Nida of mountain Psiloritis, situated in a distance of 78 km east from Rethymno town, and the Talean mountains, named today as Kouloukonas, in the northeast side of the prefecture.
Zeu's birth Myth
Without doubt the most-known myth is the one which is associated with Zeus’s birth. According to this myth, King Cronus swallowed his children because of his fear that one of them would have the power to take the throne from him in the future. Rhea, his wife, after losing five children, refuge from her furious husband, found shelter in the holy cave of Ideon Andron and gave birth to Zeus. This cave meant to be one of the most important religious centers of the ancient world. Zeus grew up in this cave under the protection of the mythic daemons Kourites, who danced wildly and hit their shields to cover with the sound the baby’s cries, the care of simple shepherds and goat Amalthia, who gave him her milk, and the attention of the nymph Melissa.
Another myth says that King Minos had an appointment with his father Zeus every nine years in Ideon Andron, when the orbits of Sun and Moon converged, in order to collect the new laws. No coincidence that Minos symbolizes the ultimate justice and, therefore, he became a judge in the other world when he died.
A not so widely-known myth mentions that Minos was born in the same cave where his father Zeus was born. When Zeus, transformed into a Taurus, steeled Europe, princess of Finiki (today’s Lebanon area), he brought her in Ideon Andron and uncovered his real face. Their intimate encounter brought Minos, Rhadamanthos and Sarpidonas into life.
The legendary giant Talos is another mythic figure connected with Rethymnon’s mythology. He was the first robot in history, a giant with a Taurus-head, made of copper by Zeus himself. He lived in the cave of Melidoni, a village that still exists today and three times a day he left his cave to protect the sea fronts from enemies. He was also the beholder of the laws. It was the beauty of Medea that made him weak when she arrived on the Argous ship. She removed the nail from his ankles, spilled his blood and Talos died. The Talean mountains are named after him.
Vassilios Digenes Akritas Myth
Another famous myth is the one of Vassilios Digenes Akritas. The whole area of the municipality of Mylopotamos in Rethymno is connected with the myths and sagas of his activity. He was one of the Akrites, the guards of the Byzantine boarders and his nickname Digenis origins from his descent: his mother was a daughter of a byzantine General, and his father an emir from Syria. The name history of Koutsotroulis, a mountain in Rethymno whose name in the Cretan dialect means “without a peak”, has two versions. In the first, Digenes has such a force during a battle against the enemies that he cuts with his hands the peak of the mountain. Before arriving at the village Makaria, in the area of Gagles, one can see on the top of a large stone a footstep which is supposed to be from Digenes. In the second, the mountain peak collapses, not strong enough to handle Digenes death.