Our next destination has a unique history, and perhaps the earliest forerunner of women’s liberation. Then again, what happened may raise a few brows and possibly considered extreme as to the outcome. We are off to the Island of Hephaistos/Hephaestus, today known as Limnos/Lemnos. It is one of the northern islands of Greece and not far from the Hellespont, the Dardenelles in Turkey, the famous trade route between the west and east, and also where Troy was situated.
There are few versions of mythology as to how the island became the place of worship of Hephaistos: the most common and the one I was familiar with was that Hera despised Hephaistos for his ugliness and tossed him from Mount Olympos. He landed on the island and broke his leg (or hip) and caused him to be lame. Another myth says Hera threw Hephaistos in a fit of anger after he interfered in an argument between her and Zeus, hence maiming him when he landed on the island; and there’s also the story that Zeus flung him out of Olympos and Hephaistos broke his legs and ended up lame. Either way, Hephaistos was thrown away by his parents, and the people on the island took care of him and worshipped him. (A sidenote, the ancient Greeks, as did many other ancient civilisations, practiced infanticide—the killing of babies who were considered unhealthy or disabled).
There is another interesting story about Hephaistos’ island, and that it was inhabited by women. Legend has it the men of the island deserted their wives for Thracian women, and in turn the jilted females murdered every remaining male, with the exception of the king, whose daughter, had hid him when she ruled in his stead. Why did the husbands leave their wives? Apparently they smelled. The women collected murex snails-a sea snail-prized for the purple colour they exuded. The women of Limnos extracted the dye from the snail, and then they would colour the linen. The colour purple was sought after by rulers and the wealthy. For those who’ve read or are familiar with the story of Jason and the Argonauts, on their way to Colchis (western part of Georgia on the Black Sea) stopped at the island and had fathered many children.
There is also a connection to the Amazons. The capital of Limnos is Myrina, named after an Amazonian queen. According to some sources, the island was matriarchal society, which gave rise to various myths of a woman only island and female rulers. Archaeologists have found evidence on the island of a possible connection to the Amazons from Scythia (Ukraine, southern Russia and western Kazakhstan).
As to how Evan and his companions end up on the Island of Hephaistos, you will have to read the book 😉
Thank you for your continued support and as always, I look forward to your comments and will respond.
Historical fiction novelist and a secondary teacher, Luciana Cavallaro, burnt out but not done… yet.