Santorini: The Jewel of the Cyclades

Santorini, also known as Thira or Strongyli is an island located in the southern Aegean Sea and is one of the most important tourist destinations worldwide.

Taxiarchos228, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Volcano of Santorini

Santorini, also known as Thira or Strongyli, is an island in the south Aegean Sea and is one of the most important tourist destinations in the world.

The history of the island is directly linked to the volcano of Santorini and its activity.

Santorini and the Chariot Of Phaethon

‘The Fall of Phaeton’-detail of a painting by Peter Paul Rubens (1605)To explain the eruption of the volcano on Santorini, the ancient Greeks invented a myth.

In this myth, Helios, the sun god, rode his chariot across the sky every day.

Helios’ son, Phaethon, envied his father’s power and asked him to drive the chariot himself for just one day.

Helios hesitated, for Phaethon was still young, inexperienced and weak, so he tried to talk his son out of it – but eventually he allowed him to take the reins of the horses.

When the horses felt that their master was no longer dominating, they suddenly got out of control and started jumping up and down all the time. Whenever the chariot got very close to the sun, the earth and the rivers would dry up. Whenever the chariot was far away, the earth was covered with snow and ice.

This turbulence caused Zeus, The Supreme God, great worry, for he wanted to save the earth. So Zeus hurled his thunderbolt at the chariot, turned the horses to stone, and threw the burning body of Phaethon into the river Eridanus in Italy.

Featured Image Credit: Norbert Nagel, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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Evangelia Hatzitsinidou is the creator and author of which has been merged with She has been writing about Greek Mythology for almost twenty years. A native to Greece, she teaches and lives just outside Athens.