(by Mr. Dimitris Parassiris, retired schoolteacher)
The Idaean Dactyls - Poulou
A strange picture
Much has been written about Zeus’ grave. According to the Cretans the father of gods and people who was born in Crete was burried in the same place as well. But where is his grave? Some people look for it in Giouchta, some others on the mountains of Lasithi and others on Mount Ida (Psiloritis). Kallinikos (or Callinicus), yet for others Epimenides of Knossos is said to have accused the Cretans as being liars because they showed visitors around Zeus’ grave while he considered him immortal since he never died. As I heard by elderly people who lived between the end of 1800 until 1950-60, several Greeks but in particular foreign visitors of the village asked where was ZOU, POULOU and MAKARIA. Let us begin with ZOU. In the south-eastern side of the hill named Kefalas, opposite Nikiforiana or Metochi, and 100 metres west of Amalthea’s Water, there is a cave whose roof has fallen over probably by some earthquake*. The legend says that an old king is buried in that cave and that it is full of gold. (According to Diodoros Siculos, Zeus was the first King of Crete.) This cave is called ZOU’s cave (another name for Zeus). Consequently the inhabitants of Zouliana, Zoulakkiana or Zoniana are entitled to claim that Zeus’ grave is situated in their territory until a further investigation on the matter is carried out and also to sing the following couplets:
Zoniana is the favourite place of Zeus
That is why he is still buried in its guts.
Zou’s Cave and Amalthea’s Water
* Statistics by N. Stavrakis, p. 107, “Earthquakes in Crete”: July 21, 365 BC. According to Von Hoff, ten towns were destroyed in Crete. “But if it is true”, says Dapper (p. 399), “that in Crete there was Zeus’ grave, it becomes clear that it must have been destroyed by an earthquake which took place during the first consulship of Flavius Iulius Valens and Valentinian I in the year 360 BC during which year more than one hundred towns of this island collapsed. Lacroix adds that in 368 BC, during the time of Gratian the Great (Flavius Gratianus Augustus), a part of the island was flooded.
500 metres away from the last house in Agouriana there is a location called Makaria. The legend says that there was an ancient city, Makaria, and this is not only manifested by the legend but also by the presence of more than ten, half-destroyed wine-presses with their pots, built with a special kind of lime, that is mud made by grated tile and lime. There is also a stone of 1.5 m. X 0.5 m. having an engraved circle and at its edges two parallel holes of 0.1 m. X 0.2 m. which was probably used as a press (see picture below). In many places there are extant walls (see picture below), others made by clay and others not, built with rough stones, which means that they are very old. In the “History of Crete” by V. Psilakis, Vol. 1, p. 56, footnote 1, it is cited that: Hogarth says that “the private dwellings of that time (before 2000 BC ) were modestly built with rough stones and clay and were painted on the inside with plaster”. There are also graves on that spot but I am not sure of which era, probably not very old ones.
Walls in Makaria
Wine-press and press in Makaria
Before we reach Makaria from the old road, at the location of Gagles there is a footprint on a stone which is called ‘Diogenis foot’ or Digenis’ foot’. When I asked Fragostelis (Stylianos Parassiris) why it is called Digenis’ foot and he explained to me, as we will see later, I noticed that he called him Diogeni rather than Digeni and I smiled ironically because, being a high school student at the time, I thought he pronounced it wrong. Fifty years later, while reading some book I found out that the Idaean Dactyls (or Dactyli) and the Curetes were called “D – i – o –geneis”, which means that they had been created by Dias (Zeus) and the descent of Dias or something like that. It was then when I remembered my uncle Fragostelis and I thought that he should be laughing ironically at me. Because as we know, Digenis was the Acritan, that is the frontiersman who pursued the Apelats from the borders of the Byzantine Empire. Here in Crete Talos, the Idaean Dactyls and the Curetes, who were called Diogeneis had taken on the role of Digenis centuries before him. The legend says that Diogenis or Digenis stepped on that stone, threw away his stick and cut one of the highest peaks of Koukoulonas. That is why it is called Koutsotroulis (which means without a peak).
(soon picture from Diogenis' foot)
An ancient town is referred to with that name. Next to Garazo there is a location with that name, which is uninhabited today, but which is said to have had six Greek Families in 1894, according to the ‘Topography of Crete’ by Kalomenopoulos. In addition, Ms. Argini Frangouli has written on the same matter where she expresses the opinion –having reservations though- that maybe on that location there had been one of the most ancient towns, Lasos, Panonia or Dion. Also in Chania there was a village with that name. Moreover, at a distance of 5-6 chilometres far away from Zoniana towards Psiloritis there is a location called the “Island”. This name is justified in every sense since from the east and north there was once lake Roussa, today a desiccated one, from the west the river Oaxis and from the south a small tributary.
In that tributary at the location of Macha high in the middle of the steep rock there is a part of a wall which makes it difficult to explain how or why it was built. In the same area a stone cutting tool resembling an axe has been found. The place on the Island has several small pieces from earthen pots. Today it is a seat inside a mitato1 of “Bouchourides” (a common Cretan family name). That seat was used for making cheese and resting.
Photos from the Island. In the first one we can see Psiloritis in the background whereas in the second one there is a ruined mitato.
1In fact it looks like a pen and it is a stony vaulted construction where the shepherds used to stay and make cheese usually in summer.
The Idaean Dactyls - Poulou
According to mythology the Idaean Dactyls or Dactyli used to be giants who were born on Mount Ida. That is why they are called Idaean, whose mission was to protect Zeus when he was little. There are many versions as to how and where they were born, which can be found in the “Cretan Mythology” by N. Psilakis. However, I will cite two of them which are related to our village. One of them says that when Rhea was in labour to Zeus, she stack her fingers into the Earth so as not to scream and let Cronus hear her. From each of her fingers, which left their fingerprints, sprang a giant, in total ten of them, who were named Idaean because they were born on Mount Ida and also Dactyls (or Dactyli), the Greek equivalent of fingers, which derives from Rhea’s fingers. It was them who committed themselves with the protection of Zeus. The other version says that a nymph called Anchiale touched with her fingers Land Oaxia and from it sprang ten men who were called Idaean Dactyls. But what is Land Oaxia? As it is widely spread, the river Milopotamos crosses Zoniana, from which river the province took its name. The river was named Oaxis in antiquity (also Virgil mentions it, see Encyclopedia “HELIOS”). It starts from Psiloritis, crosses Zoniana, Diskouri, next to Garazo, Mourtzana, Perama and flows into the mouth between Panormos and Skaleta. It is nowadays called Geropotamos. Anchiale touched the Land of Oaxis and this took place near Mount Ida in Zoniana. But even if we suppose that when we say Land Oaxia we mean the Earth of the ancient Oaxos (Axos), nothing really changes because in antiquity the entire province of Zoniana and Anogeia belonged to the kingdom of Oaxos (or Axos). Therefore, Oaxia was also the Land of Zoniana. But now another question rises: Where did Rhea stack her fingers and which are her fingerprints? One hand is surely situated at the location of Poulou. It is the place where the river Oaxis ends (Mesokourouno) and five streamlets begin to mount up Psiloritis. If one happens to see them from a high place, one is given the impression that they look like an open, gigantic hand (a common Greek gesture which shows contempt or abuse) and this in the Cretan dialect is called poulos, from which word derived the name of the location Poulou. These streamlets –fingerprints- belong to the Island, to Kavdelio, Zouridospilia, Pelekato and Lagoperama. To sum up, the Dactyls are called Idaean because the place is located on Mount Ida, Dactyls and Poulou because the streamlets look like open fingers, the river is called Oaxis – Land Oaxia consequently: this is the place where the ancient Cretans thought that Rhea had stack her hand.
A strange picture
At a close distance from Zou’s cave and Amalthea’s Water there is what is depicted in the picture below. What can it be?