The Ancient Greek language includes the forms of Greek used in Ancient Greece and the ancient world from around the 9th century BCE to the 6th century CE. It is roughly divided into the Archaic period, Classical period, Hellenistic period, it is succeeded by medieval Greek. Koine is regarded as a separate historical stage of its own, although in its earliest form it resembled Attic Greek and in its latest form it approaches Medieval Greek. Prior to the Koine period, Greek of the classic and earlier periods included several regional dialects. Ancient Greek was the language of Homer and of fifth-century Athenian historians and philosophers, it has contributed many words to English vocabulary and has been a standard subject of study in educational institutions of the Western world since the Renaissance. This article contains information about the Epic and Classical periods of the language. Ancient Greek was a pluricentric language, divided into many dialects; the main dialect groups are Attic and Ionic, Aeolic and Doric, many of them with several subdivisions.
Some dialects are found in standardized literary forms used in literature, while others are attested only in inscriptions. There are several historical forms. Homeric Greek is a literary form of Archaic Greek used in the epic poems, the "Iliad" and "Odyssey", in poems by other authors. Homeric Greek had significant differences in grammar and pronunciation from Classical Attic and other Classical-era dialects; the origins, early form and development of the Hellenic language family are not well understood because of a lack of contemporaneous evidence. Several theories exist about what Hellenic dialect groups may have existed between the divergence of early Greek-like speech from the common Proto-Indo-European language and the Classical period, they differ in some of the detail. The only attested dialect from this period is Mycenaean Greek, but its relationship to the historical dialects and the historical circumstances of the times imply that the overall groups existed in some form. Scholars assume that major Ancient Greek period dialect groups developed not than 1120 BCE, at the time of the Dorian invasion—and that their first appearances as precise alphabetic writing began in the 8th century BCE.
The invasion would not be "Dorian" unless the invaders had some cultural relationship to the historical Dorians. The invasion is known to have displaced population to the Attic-Ionic regions, who regarded themselves as descendants of the population displaced by or contending with the Dorians; the Greeks of this period believed there were three major divisions of all Greek people—Dorians and Ionians, each with their own defining and distinctive dialects. Allowing for their oversight of Arcadian, an obscure mountain dialect, Cypriot, far from the center of Greek scholarship, this division of people and language is quite similar to the results of modern archaeological-linguistic investigation. One standard formulation for the dialects is: West vs. non-west Greek is the strongest marked and earliest division, with non-west in subsets of Ionic-Attic and Aeolic vs. Arcadocypriot, or Aeolic and Arcado-Cypriot vs. Ionic-Attic. Non-west is called East Greek. Arcadocypriot descended more from the Mycenaean Greek of the Bronze Age.
Boeotian had come under a strong Northwest Greek influence, can in some respects be considered a transitional dialect. Thessalian had come under Northwest Greek influence, though to a lesser degree. Pamphylian Greek, spoken in a small area on the southwestern coast of Anatolia and little preserved in inscriptions, may be either a fifth major dialect group, or it is Mycenaean Greek overlaid by Doric, with a non-Greek native influence. Most of the dialect sub-groups listed above had further subdivisions equivalent to a city-state and its surrounding territory, or to an island. Doric notably had several intermediate divisions as well, into Island Doric, Southern Peloponnesus Doric, Northern Peloponnesus Doric; the Lesbian dialect was Aeolic Greek. All the groups were represented by colonies beyond Greece proper as well, these colonies developed local characteristics under the influence of settlers or neighbors speaking different Greek dialects; the dialects outside the Ionic group are known from inscriptions, notable exceptions being: fragments of the works of the poet Sappho from the island of Lesbos, in Aeolian, the poems of the Boeotian poet Pindar and other lyric poets in Doric.
After the conquests of Alexander the Great in the late 4th century BCE, a new international dialect known as Koine or Common Greek developed based on Attic Greek, but with influence from other dialects. This dialect replaced most of the older dialects, although Doric dialect has survived in the Tsakonian language, spoken in the region of modern Sparta. Doric has passed down its aorist terminations into most verbs of Demotic Greek. By about the 6th century CE, the Koine had metamorphosized into Medieval Greek. Ancient Macedonian was an Indo-European language at least related to Greek, but its exact relationship is unclear because of insufficient data: a dialect of Greek; the Macedonian dialect (or l
Anatolia known as Asia Minor, Asian Turkey, the Anatolian peninsula or the Anatolian plateau, is the westernmost protrusion of Asia, which makes up the majority of modern-day Turkey. The region is bounded by the Black Sea to the north, the Mediterranean Sea to the south, the Armenian Highlands to the east and the Aegean Sea to the west; the Sea of Marmara forms a connection between the Black and Aegean Seas through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits and separates Anatolia from Thrace on the European mainland. The eastern border of Anatolia is traditionally held to be a line between the Gulf of Alexandretta and the Black Sea, bounded by the Armenian Highland to the east and Mesopotamia to the southeast. Thus, traditionally Anatolia is the territory that comprises the western two-thirds of the Asian part of Turkey. Nowadays, Anatolia is often considered to be synonymous with Asian Turkey, which comprises the entire country. By some definitions, the area called the Armenian highlands lies beyond the boundary of the Anatolian plateau.
The official name of this inland region is the Eastern Anatolia Region. The ancient inhabitants of Anatolia spoke the now-extinct Anatolian languages, which were replaced by the Greek language starting from classical antiquity and during the Hellenistic and Byzantine periods. Major Anatolian languages included Hittite and Lydian among other more poorly attested relatives; the Turkification of Anatolia began under the Seljuk Empire in the late 11th century and continued under the Ottoman Empire between the late 13th and early 20th centuries. However, various non-Turkic languages continue to be spoken by minorities in Anatolia today, including Kurdish, Neo-Aramaic, Arabic, Laz and Greek. Other ancient peoples in the region included Galatians, Assyrians, Cimmerians, as well as Ionian and Aeolian Greeks. Traditionally, Anatolia is considered to extend in the east to an indefinite line running from the Gulf of Alexandretta to the Black Sea, coterminous with the Anatolian Plateau; this traditional geographical definition is used, for example, in the latest edition of Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary, Under this definition, Anatolia is bounded to the east by the Armenian Highlands, the Euphrates before that river bends to the southeast to enter Mesopotamia.
To the southeast, it is bounded by the ranges that separate it from the Orontes valley in Syria and the Mesopotamian plain. Following the Armenian genocide, Ottoman Armenia was renamed "Eastern Anatolia" by the newly established Turkish government. Vazken Davidian terms the expanded use of "Anatolia" to apply to territory referred to as Armenia an "ahistorical imposition", notes that a growing body of literature is uncomfortable with referring to the Ottoman East as "Eastern Anatolia". Most archeological sources consider the boundary of Anatolia to be Turkey's eastern border; the highest mountains in "Eastern Anatolia" are Mount Ararat. The Euphrates, Araxes and Murat rivers connect the Armenian plateau to the South Caucasus and the Upper Euphrates Valley. Along with the Çoruh, these rivers are the longest in "Eastern Anatolia"; the oldest known reference to Anatolia – as “Land of the Hatti” – appears on Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets from the period of the Akkadian Empire. The first recorded name the Greeks used for the Anatolian peninsula, Ἀσία echoed the name of the Assuwa league in western Anatolia.
As the name "Asia" broadened its scope to apply to other areas east of the Mediterranean, Greeks in Late Antiquity came to use the name Μικρὰ Ἀσία or Asia Minor, meaning "Lesser Asia" to refer to present-day Anatolia. The English-language name Anatolia itself derives from the Greek ἀνατολή meaning “the East” or more “sunrise”; the precise reference of this term has varied over time originally referring to the Aeolian and Dorian colonies on the west coast of Asia Minor. In the Byzantine Empire, the Anatolic Theme was a theme covering the western and central parts of Turkey's present-day Central Anatolia Region; the term "Anatolia" is Medieval Latin. The modern Turkish form of Anatolia, derives from the Greek name Aνατολή; the Russian male name Anatoly and the French Anatole share the same linguistic origin. The term "Anatolia" referred to a northwestern Byzantine province. By the 12th century Europeans had started referring to Anatolia as Turchia, it has also been called "Asia Minor". In earlier times, it was called" Rûm" by the Seljuqs.
During the era of the Ottoman Empire mapmakers outside the Empire referred to the mountainous plateau in eastern Anatolia as Armenia. Other contemporary sources called the same area Kurdistan. Geographers have variously used the terms east Anatolian plateau and Armenian plateau to refer to the region, although the territory encompassed by each term overlaps with the other. According to archaeologist Lori Khatchadourian this difference in terminology "primarily result from the shifting political fortunes and cultural trajectories of the region since the nineteenth century."Turkey's First Geography Congress in 1941 created two regions to the east of the Gulf of Iskenderun-Black Sea line named the Eastern Anatolia Region and the Southeastern Anatolia Region, the former corresponding to the weste
Xanthias refers to several characters, notably all slaves, who appear in plays by the Ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. In The Frogs, Xanthias is the slave of Dionysus, he delivers the opening line of the play, riding on Dionysus' donkey and debating with Dionysus about what jokes Xanthias can make. He and Dionysus trade barbs throughout the play, with Xanthias coming out on top; when they cross the Acheron, Xanthias is forced to carry the luggage around the lake because he was unable to participate in the Battle of Arginusae due to pinkeye. In the underworld, Xanthias is forced by Dionysus to trade attire three times, to comedic effect - when Dionysus is dressed as Heracles, he is threatened by Aeacus, the hostess, an ornery maid, while Xanthias as Heracles is welcomed joyfully by a nice maid. Xanthias manages to trick Aeacus into whipping both him and Dionysus to avoid having monsters set upon him. Once the confusion about master and slave is sorted out, Xanthias flirts with the nice maid, discussing ways they secretly rebel against their masters.
Xanthias of The Frogs defies the convention of slaves introduced in earlier works by Aristophanes. In The Knights, The Wasps, Peace, slaves fulfill two functions - they introduce the situation at the beginning of the play and they provide comedic relief by being threatened or frightened. However, in The Frogs, Xanthias begins by debating with his master about what kind of joke he can tell to initiate the play. Aristophanes uses their banter to blast the low level of humor used by contemporaries, referencing Phrynichus and Ameipsias. Aristophanes represents Xanthias as cleverer than Dionysus. Xanthias pretends to see Empousa, frightening slouching Dionysus. Xanthias tricks Aeacus into whipping both of them to differentiate between master and servant. Xanthias is dominant during the latter situation, as Dionysus pleads and whines to let Xanthias change clothes with him. Despite Xanthias' superiority, Dover cautions against an interpretation that Aristophanes supported emancipation - he points out that Aristophanes' audience may quite have seen little more in Xanthias' dominance than a confirmation of the impudence of the servant class, the comedy of the situation can arise from a reversal of roles, similar to the comedy evoked in Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Ecclesiazusae with respect to women.
Brow-beating & topping a bumbling living god, during his multiple hallowed citations, may have had something to do with it, too. The Wasps, as Bdelycleon's slave The Clouds, as Strepsiades' slave The Birds, as a slave The Acharnians, as a slave ordered to hold phallus upright
Aphrodite is an ancient Greek goddess associated with love, pleasure and procreation. She is identified with the planet Venus, named after the Roman goddess Venus, with whom Aphrodite was extensively syncretized. Aphrodite's major symbols include myrtles, doves and swans; the cult of Aphrodite was derived from that of the Phoenician goddess Astarte, a cognate of the East Semitic goddess Ishtar, whose cult was based on the Sumerian cult of Inanna. Aphrodite's main cult centers were Cythera, Cyprus and Athens, her main festival was the Aphrodisia, celebrated annually in midsummer. In Laconia, Aphrodite was worshipped as a warrior goddess, she was the patron goddess of prostitutes, an association which led early scholars to propose the concept of "sacred prostitution", an idea, now seen as erroneous. In Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite is born off the coast of Cythera from the foam produced by Uranus's genitals, which his son Cronus has severed and thrown into the sea. In Homer's Iliad, she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione.
Plato, in his Symposium 180e, asserts that these two origins belong to separate entities: Aphrodite Ourania and Aphrodite Pandemos. Aphrodite had many other epithets, each emphasizing a different aspect of the same goddess, or used by a different local cult, thus she was known as Cytherea and Cypris, due to the fact that both locations claimed to be the place of her birth. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite was married to the god of blacksmiths and metalworking. Despite this, Aphrodite was unfaithful to him and had many lovers. In the First Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, she seduces the mortal shepherd Anchises. Aphrodite was the surrogate mother and lover of the mortal shepherd Adonis, killed by a wild boar. Along with Athena and Hera, Aphrodite was one of the three goddesses whose feud resulted in the beginning of the Trojan War and she plays a major role throughout the Iliad. Aphrodite has been featured in western art as a symbol of female beauty and has appeared in numerous works of western literature.
She is a major deity in modern Neopagan religions, including the Church of Aphrodite and Hellenismos. Hesiod derives Aphrodite from aphrós "sea-foam", interpreting the name as "risen from the foam", but most modern scholars regard this as a spurious folk etymology. Early modern scholars of classical mythology attempted to argue that Aphrodite's name was of Greek or Indo-European origin, but these efforts have now been abandoned. Aphrodite's name is accepted to be of non-Greek Semitic, but its exact derivation cannot be determined. Scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, accepting Hesiod's "foam" etymology as genuine, analyzed the second part of Aphrodite's name as *-odítē "wanderer" or *-dítē "bright". Michael Janda accepting Hesiod's etymology, has argued in favor of the latter of these interpretations and claims the story of a birth from the foam as an Indo-European mytheme. Witczak proposes an Indo-European compound *abʰor- "very" and *dʰei- "to shine" referring to Eos.
Other scholars have argued that these hypotheses are unlikely since Aphrodite's attributes are different from those of both Eos and the Vedic deity Ushas. A number of improbable non-Greek etymologies have been suggested. One Semitic etymology compares Aphrodite to the Assyrian barīrītu, the name of a female demon that appears in Middle Babylonian and Late Babylonian texts. Hammarström looks to Etruscan, comparing prϑni "lord", an Etruscan honorific loaned into Greek as πρύτανις; this would make the theonym in origin an honorific, "the lady". Most scholars reject this etymology as implausible since Aphrodite appears in Etruscan in the borrowed form Apru; the medieval Etymologicum Magnum offers a contrived etymology, deriving Aphrodite from the compound habrodíaitos, "she who lives delicately", from habrós and díaita. The alteration from b to ph is explained as a "familiar" characteristic of Greek "obvious from the Macedonians"; the cult of Aphrodite in Greece was imported from, or at least influenced by, the cult of Astarte in Phoenicia, which, in turn, was influenced by the cult of the Mesopotamian goddess known as "Ishtar" to the East Semitic peoples and as "Inanna" to the Sumerians.
Pausanias states that the first to establish a cult of Aphrodite were the Assyrians, after the Assyrians, the Paphians of Cyprus, the Phoenicians at Ascalon. The Phoenicians, in turn, taught her worship to the people of Cythera. Aphrodite took on Inanna-Ishtar's associations with procreation. Furthermore, she was known as Ourania, which means "heavenly", a title corresponding to Inanna's role as the Queen of Heaven. Early artistic and literary portrayals of Aphrodite are similar on Inanna-Ishtar. Like Inanna-Ishtar, Aphrodite was a warrior goddess, he mentions that Aphrodite's most ancient cult statues in Sparta and on Cythera showed her bearing arms. Modern scholars note that Aphrodite's warrior-goddess aspects appear in the oldest strata of her worship and see it as an indication of her Near Eastern origins. Nineteenth century classical scholars had a general aversion to the idea that ancient Greek religion was at all influenced by the cultures of the Near East, but Friedrich Got
Bellerophon or Bellerophontes is a hero of Greek mythology. He was "the greatest hero and slayer of monsters, alongside Cadmus and Perseus, before the days of Heracles", his greatest feat was killing the Chimera, a monster that Homer depicted with a lion's head, a goat's body, a serpent's tail: "her breath came out in terrible blasts of burning flame." One possible etymology, suggested is: Βελλεροφόντης from βέλεμνον, βελόνη, βέλος and -φόντης from φονεύω. However, Geoffrey Kirk says that "Βελλεροφόντης means'slayer of Belleros'". Belleros could have been a Lycian, a local daimon or a Corinthian nobleman—Bellerophon's name "clearly invited all sorts of speculation". Bellerophon was born at Corinth and was the son of the mortal Eurynome by either her husband Glaucus, or Poseidon, he was the brother of Deliades Bellerophon was the father of Isander Hippolochus and Laodamia by Philonoe, daughter of King Iobates of Lycia. Philonoe was known under several other names: Alkimedousa, Pasandra or Cassandra.
In some accounts, Bellerophon fathered Hydissos by Asteria, daughter of Hydeus. The Iliad vi.155–203 contains an embedded narrative told by Bellerophon's grandson Glaucus, named for his great-grandfather, which recounts Bellerophon's myth. Bellerophon's father was Glaucus, the king of Corinth and the son of Sisyphus. Bellerophon's grandsons Sarpedon and the younger Glaucus fought in the Trojan War. In the Epitome of pseudo-Apollodorus, a genealogy is given for Chrysaor that would make him a double of Bellerophon. Chrysaor has no myth save that of his birth: from the severed neck of Medusa, with child by Poseidon, he and Pegasus both sprang at the moment of her death. "From this moment we hear no more of Chrysaor, the rest of the tale concerning the stallion only... also for his brother's sake, by whom in the end he let himself be caught, the immortal horse by his mortal brother." Bellerophon's brave journey began in the familiar way, with an exile: he had murdered either his brother, whose name is given as Deliades, Peiren or Alcimenes, or killed a shadowy "enemy", a "Belleros" or "Belleron", a ruler of the Corinthians, in expiation of his crime arrived as a suppliant to Proetus, king in Tiryns, one of the Mycenaean strongholds of the Argolid.
Proetus, by virtue of his kingship, cleansed Bellerophon of his crime. The wife of the king, whether named Anteia or Stheneboea, took a fancy to him, but when he rejected her, she accused Bellerophon of attempting to ravish her. Proetus dared not satisfy his anger by killing a guest, so he sent Bellerophon to King Iobates his father-in-law, in the plain of the River Xanthus in Lycia, bearing a sealed message in a folded tablet: "Pray remove the bearer from this world: he attempted to violate my wife, your daughter." Before opening the tablets, Iobates feasted with Bellerophon for nine days. On reading the tablet's message Iobates too feared the wrath of the Erinyes; the Chimera was a fire-breathing monster consisting of the body of a goat, the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent. This monster had terrorized the nearby countryside. On his way he encountered the famous Corinthian seer Polyeidos, who gave him advice about his oncoming battle. Polyeidos told Bellerophon. To obtain the services of the untamed winged horse, Polyeidos told Bellerophon to sleep in the temple of Athena.
While Bellerophon slept, he dreamed that Athena set a golden bridle beside him, saying "Sleepest thou, prince of the house of Aiolos? Come, take this charm for the steed and show it to the Tamer thy father as thou makest sacrifice to him of a white bull." It was there. Bellerophon had to approach Pegasus. Other accounts say that Athena brought Pegasus tamed and bridled, or that Poseidon the horse-tamer, secretly the father of Bellerophon, brought Pegasus, as Pausanias understood. Bellerophon flew off to where the Chimera was said to dwell; when he arrived in Lycia, the Chimera was ferocious, he could not harm the monster while riding on Pegasus. He felt the heat of the breath the Chimera expelled, was struck with an idea, he mounted it on his spear. He flew head-on towards the Chimera, holding out the spear as far as he could. Before he broke off his attack, he managed to lodge the block of lead inside the Chimera's throat; the beast's fire-breath melted the lead, blocked its air passage. The Chimera suffocated, Bellerophon returned victorious to King Iobates.
Iobates, on Bellerophon's return, was unwilling to credit his story. A series of daunting further quests ensued: he was sent against the warlike Solymi and against the Amazons who fought like men, whom Bellerophon vanquished by dropping boulders from his winged horse. In defense the palace women sent him and the flood in retreat by rushing from the gates with their robes lifted high, offering themselves, to which the mo
Greek mythology is the body of myths told by the ancient Greeks. These stories concern the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities and mythological creatures, the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks' own cult and ritual practices. Modern scholars study the myths in an attempt to shed light on the religious and political institutions of ancient Greece and its civilization, to gain understanding of the nature of myth-making itself; the Greek myths were propagated in an oral-poetic tradition most by Minoan and Mycenaean singers starting in the 18th century BC. Two poems by Homer's near contemporary Hesiod, the Theogony and the Works and Days, contain accounts of the genesis of the world, the succession of divine rulers, the succession of human ages, the origin of human woes, the origin of sacrificial practices. Myths are preserved in the Homeric Hymns, in fragments of epic poems of the Epic Cycle, in lyric poems, in the works of the tragedians and comedians of the fifth century BC, in writings of scholars and poets of the Hellenistic Age, in texts from the time of the Roman Empire by writers such as Plutarch and Pausanias.
Aside from this narrative deposit in ancient Greek literature, pictorial representations of gods and mythic episodes featured prominently in ancient vase-paintings and the decoration of votive gifts and many other artifacts. Geometric designs on pottery of the eighth century BC depict scenes from the Trojan cycle as well as the adventures of Heracles. In the succeeding Archaic and Hellenistic periods and various other mythological scenes appear, supplementing the existing literary evidence. Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture and literature of Western civilization and remains part of Western heritage and language. Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes. Greek mythology is known today from Greek literature and representations on visual media dating from the Geometric period from c. 900 BC to c. 800 BC onward. In fact and archaeological sources integrate, sometimes mutually supportive and sometimes in conflict.
Mythical narration plays an important role in nearly every genre of Greek literature. The only general mythographical handbook to survive from Greek antiquity was the Library of Pseudo-Apollodorus; this work attempts to reconcile the contradictory tales of the poets and provides a grand summary of traditional Greek mythology and heroic legends. Apollodorus of Athens wrote on many of these topics, his writings may have formed the basis for the collection. Among the earliest literary sources are the Iliad and the Odyssey. Other poets completed the "epic cycle", but these and lesser poems now are lost entirely. Despite their traditional name, the "Homeric Hymns" have no direct connection with Homer, they are choral hymns from the earlier part of the so-called Lyric age. Hesiod, a possible contemporary with Homer, offers in his Theogony the fullest account of the earliest Greek myths, dealing with the creation of the world. Hesiod's Works and Days, a didactic poem about farming life includes the myths of Prometheus and the Five Ages.
The poet gives advice on the best way to succeed in a dangerous world, rendered yet more dangerous by its gods. Lyrical poets took their subjects from myth, but their treatment became less narrative and more allusive. Greek lyric poets, including Pindar and Simonides, bucolic poets such as Theocritus and Bion, relate individual mythological incidents. Additionally, myth was central to classical Athenian drama; the tragic playwrights Aeschylus and Euripides took most of their plots from myths of the age of heroes and the Trojan War. Many of the great tragic stories took on their classic form in these tragedies; the comic playwright Aristophanes used myths, in The Birds and The Frogs. Historians Herodotus and Diodorus Siculus, geographers Pausanias and Strabo, who traveled throughout the Greek world and noted the stories they heard, supplied numerous local myths and legends giving little-known alternative versions. Herodotus in particular, searched the various traditions presented him and found the historical or mythological roots in the confrontation between Greece and the East.
Herodotus attempted to reconcile the blending of differing cultural concepts. The poetry of the Hellenistic and Roman ages was composed as a literary rather than cultic exercise, it contains many important details that would otherwise be lost. This category includes the works of: The Roman poets Ovid, Valerius Flaccus and Virgil with Servius's commentary; the Greek poets of the Late Antique period: Nonnus, Antoninus Liberalis, Quintus Smyrnaeus. The Greek poets of the Hellenistic period: Apollonius of Rhodes, Pseudo-Eratosthenes, Parthenius. Prose writers from the same periods who make reference to myths includ
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the 88th largest island in the world and the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, after Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica. Crete and a number of surrounding islands and islets constitute the region of Crete, one of the 13 top-level administrative units of Greece; the capital and the largest city is Heraklion. As of 2011, the region had a population of 623,065. Crete forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece, while retaining its own local cultural traits, it was once the centre of the Minoan civilisation, the earliest known civilisation in Europe. The palace of Knossos lies in Crete; the island is first referred to as Kaptara in texts from the Syrian city of Mari dating from the 18th century BC, repeated in Neo-Assyrian records and the Bible. It was known in ancient Egyptian as Keftiu suggesting a similar Minoan name for the island; the current name of Crete is thought to be first attested in Mycenaean Greek texts written in Linear B, through the words ke-re-te, ke-re-si-jo, "Cretan".
In Ancient Greek, the name Crete first appears in Homer's Odyssey. Its etymology is unknown. One proposal derives it from a hypothetical Luwian word, *kursatta. In Latin, it became Creta; the original Arabic name of Crete was Iqrīṭiš, but after the Emirate of Crete's establishment of its new capital at ربض الخندق Rabḍ al-Ḫandaq, both the city and the island became known as Χάνδαξ or Χάνδακας, which gave Latin and Venetian Candia, from which were derived French Candie and English Candy or Candia. Under Ottoman rule, in Ottoman Turkish, Crete was called Girit. Crete is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, it is located in the southern part of the Aegean Sea separating the Aegean from the Libyan Sea. The island has an elongated shape: it spans 260 km from east to west, is 60 km at its widest point, narrows to as little as 12 km. Crete covers an area of 8,336 km2, with a coastline of 1,046 km, it lies 160 km south of the Greek mainland. Crete is mountainous, its character is defined by a high mountain range crossing from west to east, formed by three different groups of mountains: The White Mountains or Lefka Ori 2,454 m The Idi Range (Psiloritis 35.18°N 24.82°E / 35.18.
The island has a number of gorges, such as the Samariá Gorge, Imbros Gorge, Kourtaliotiko Gorge, Ha Gorge, Platania Gorge, the Gorge of the Dead and Richtis Gorge and waterfall at Exo Mouliana in Sitia. The rivers of Crete include the Ieropotamos River, the Koiliaris, the Anapodiaris, the Almiros, the Giofyros, Megas Potamos. There are only two freshwater lakes in Crete: Lake Kournas and Lake Agia, which are both in Chania regional unit. Lake Voulismeni at the coast, at Aghios Nikolaos, was a freshwater lake but is now connected to the sea, in Lasithi. Lakes that were created by dams exist in Crete. There are three: the lake of Aposelemis Dam, the lake of Potamos Dam, the lake of Mpramiana Dam. A large number of islands and rocks hug the coast of Crete. Many are visited by tourists, some are only visited by biologists; some are environmentally protected. A small sample of the islands includes: Gramvousa the pirate island opposite the Balo lagoon Elafonisi, which commemorates a shipwreck and an Ottoman massacre Chrysi island, which hosts the largest natural Lebanon cedar forest in Europe Paximadia island where the god Apollo and the goddess Artemis were born The Venetian fort and leper colony at Spinalonga opposite the beach and shallow waters of Elounda Dionysades islands which are in an environmentally protected region together the Palm Beach Forest of Vai in the municipality of Sitia, LasithiOff the south coast, the island of Gavdos is located 26 nautical miles south of Hora Sfakion and is the southernmost point of Europe.
Crete straddles two climatic zones, the Mediterranean and the North African falling within the former. As such, the climate in Crete is Mediterranean; the atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, while winter is mild. Snowfall is rare in the low-lying areas. While some mountain tops are snow-capped for most of the year, near the coast snow only stays on the ground for a few minutes or hours. However, a exceptional cold snap swept the island in February 2004, during which period the whole island was blanketed with snow. During the Cretan summer, average temperatures reach the high 20s-low 30s Celsius, with maxima touching the upper 30s-mid 40s; the south coast, including the Mesara Pla