Visit Crete: Percy Jackson Trip for Kids
The largest Greek island, Crete is one of the most popular to visit. One of the reasons for this is that Crete is rich in mythology. Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, which dates before the prominence of ancient Greece.
While not directly related to Greek Mythology, the Minoan civilization did heavily influence the ancient Greek culture and is known as the first advanced civilization in Europe. It is actually named for King Minos, whose ghost plays a prominent role in the Percy Jackson series, especially the fourth book, The Battle of the Labyrinth.
King Minos and the Minotaur
Fans who have read The Battle of the Labyrinth may remember the story of King Minos, the Minotaur, and Daedalus.
According to one version of Greek Mythology, King Minos asked the god Poseidon to send a bull as a blessing on his rule. King Minos promised to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, but when Poseidon sent a pristine white bull, Minos found it too beautiful to sacrifice and chose a different bull instead. This angered Poseidon, so he cursed King Minos’ wife, Pasiphae, to fall in love with the bull. Pasiphae then gave birth to a monster that had the body of a man and the head of a bull.
The Minotaur in Riordan’s Books: This Minotaur was incredibly powerful and bloodthirsty, which makes it miraculous that Percy was able to defeat it in The Lightning Thief with no fighting experience.
The talented architect, Daedalus, was in service to King Minos at the time, so he was forced to create a Labyrinth in order to keep the Minotaur trapped.
Around the same time, the Athenians lost a battle against the Minoans, which was started because King Minos’ son was killed by the Athenians. King Minos decided to punish them by forcing them to send seven young men and seven young women to Crete every year (or every nine according to some myths) to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.
The Minotaur in Riordan’s Books: Percy Jackson fans will remember the Labyrinth from The Battle of the Labyrinth. In the book, Daedalus’ Labyrinth is still in function, almost having a life of its own, and has moved to reside beneath the United States. The demigods navigate the Labyrinth throughout the book and later meet Daedalus.
Theseus and Ariadne
After reclaiming his place as the prince of Athens, the famous Greek hero Theseus volunteers to go to Crete as one of the seven young men in hopes that he can slay the Minotaur and save his city’s youth from continuous sacrifice. Once he arrives on the island, he meets Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, who falls in love with him. She agrees to help him navigate the Labyrinth in order to kill the Minotaur and escape, if he will marry her and take her off the island. Theseus agrees, and Ariadne gives Theseus a string that will help guide him through the Labyrinth.
Theseus defeats the Minotaur and sails towards Athens with Ariadne. However, according to most myths, he abandons her on the island of Naxos, where Dionysus (or Mr. D) discovers her. Dionysus falls in love with her and marries her.
Theseus and Ariadne in Riordan’s Books: In The Titan’s Curse, Mr. D tells Percy that Theseus’s behavior towards Ariadne is one of the reasons he dislikes heroes like the demigods at Camp Half-Blood.
The Palace of Knossos
In Crete, you will be able to see the Palace of Knossos which is thought by archeologists to be either the palace where King Minos lived and ruled, or the labyrinth that Daedalus built for the Minotaur. The Palace of Knossos is in Heraklion, the largest city on the island.
In addition to this famous site, Heraklion is also home to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, one of the greatest museums in Greece and the number one museum for Minoan art. Visiting this museum will help you imagine Knossos as it once was, since much of the findings from the site are at the museum.
The Palace of Knossos in Riordan’s Books: You will also see statues of many gods mentioned in the Percy Jackson books.
The Birth of Zeus
Another famous myth that gives Crete some of its popularity is the birth of the king of Olympus, Zeus.
In The Lightning Thief, Chiron tells Percy’s class the story of the titan lord Kronos. Kronos is given a prophecy that his children will one day overthrow him, so when his wife Rhea gives birth to the gods Hestia, Demeter, Hera, Hades, and Poseidon, Kronos eats them.
However, when Rhea is pregnant with their sixth child, Zeus, she devises a plan. According to mythology, she gave birth to Zeus in a cave on the island of Crete, and then gives Kronos a rock disguised as baby Zeus to swallow. Rhea entrusts baby Zeus to a goat named Amalthea who nursed him with her milk and gave him honey.
Dikteon and Ideon Cave
There are two caves on the island of Crete that people believe could have been the birthplace of Zeus.
One cave is called Dikteon Cave and located in an area called Lassithi Plateau. The other possible cave is on the tallest mountain in Crete, Mount Ida, and called the Ideon Cave. Both caves are easy day trips from Heraklion!
Book a trip with Greek Mythology Tours for 2021 or 2022 to experience the island of Crete for yourself!
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