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Aphrodite of Milos  


Many are the testimonies that justify the name "Milos" both from the mythological and the historical period, and many the names that were given to this Cycladic island that was considered the Gate between the Western and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Milos: It is said, that he was the son of River Skamandros who colonized the island according to the directive of goddess Venus. He was a beautiful young lad with whom befell in love the three Olympian Goddesses: Ira, Athena and Venus, and thus was created the dispute that Paris was called to untie. The reward was an apple that Paris offered to Venus "to the most beautiful".

The entry of the harbour

The entry of the harbour

Elsewhere it is reported as Vyvlis, considered a colony of the Phoenician Vyvlos.
Aristotle names her Zefyria. Perhaps as the western-most island of the Cyclades, after “zefyros”, the western wind, one of the most common winds on the island - besides north winds-. The name "Zefyria" is till today used for the old capital of Milos, Chora.
Elsewhere it is reported as Melis, a Cretan young beauty whom Damaneas was chasing for his unfulfilled love of her. Melis tried to escape by throwing herself at sea but she drowned and the waves carried her in Milos, where she was worshipped as a nymph and gave also her name.
Still, are given the names Syrifi, Akytos, Siphnos, Mymalis, Vilos etc.
“Milo”=apple in modern Greek, “Milo”=sheep in ancient Greek
Daring would be the opinion that at the last glaciers period the cultivation and production of apple trees was common on the island and that after them the name Milos was given to the island.
However at the antiquity apart of the fruits, “milo” was also called the sheep. In the prehistoric tombs of Phylakopi, together with the funerary gifts, were found tufts of wool and it is now established that they raised sheep and traded wool. Perhaps therefore due to the Milo-sheep that were an important factor of commercial activity and acme, the island was named Milos. Furthermore, the ram –called Malion- is a frequently portrayed symbol on the coinage of the period.

Millstones, Milos Mining Museum

According to another version, Milos was a beautiful young person from Delos who travelled to Cyprus. There he connected by close friendship with Adonis, the son of king Kyniras. He was wedded to one of his relatives, Pelia. When however Adonis died, Milos was brought to despair and hung himself on a tree that after him was named “Melia” (apple tree). His wife Pelia died of sorrow. Their son, who was also named Milos, was raised in the sanctuary of Venus, as a protégé of the Goddess, who sent him to the island of the Cyclades - and from his name, the island was named Milos.

Milos taught the residents the shearing of sheep and the use of wool for the manufacture of clothing - another indication of the significance of the word Milos-sheep. Venus transformed the father Milos to a fruit and his wife Pelia to a dove.

During the Ottoman period, Milos was known as “Deyrman-antasi” that in Turkish means "Island of millstones ". The millstones of Milos, primarily used for grain and dried fruit grinding, were famous to the end of the world.
The Dorian descent, in the beginning of the historical period, caused a relocation of populations resulting to the foundation of new colonies. The leader Thyras, from Sparta, colonized Santorini - that by his name was originally called Thyra. In a similar migration from Sparta to Crete, under the rulers Polis and Delfos, a Dorian colony was founded in Milos.

Sheep or Mila, suggested origin of the island's name

Many historians cite the Dorian origin of Milos. Thoucidides reports in “the Dialogue of Athenians-Melians”, that the Melians rejected the Athenian demands anticipating that they would receive help from their relatives, the Spartans (of Dorian origin).


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