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by Archaeology Newsroom

Is King Zeus Alive?” Dance Mytho-musicologies in the Mountainous Crete

In order to conceal the cries of the new-born Zeus, so as Cronus, the divine baby’s father, not to find and eat him, the Kouretes, the daemons-guadrians of Zeus, invented and danced a vivacious dance still performed in the village Anogeia on Mount Ida (pres. Psyloreitis), the highest mountain of Crete. Like the Cretan-born Zeus, another god, Hyacinth, is born and dies every year. Apollo, the god of Harmony and Music, charms Hyacinth by playing his lyre, but in the athletic contest of discus-throwing that follows Hyacinth is killed by mistake by Apollo’s disc. Since 1998 the inhabitants of Anogeia venerate Hyacinth as the twenty-years old martyr of love and eternal youth, who gave his life for Christ.

The villagers choose to demonstrate the firm ties connecting past and present through music and dancing, which, as they believe, go back to primeval cultural schemes four thousand, or maybe more, years old. These music and dance “rites” are performed annually in the mountainous Anogeia and are called Hyacmtheia. They are the inhabitants’ libations to Hyacinth and Zeus, the gods to whom they owe their uniqueness. Conclusively, by music playing and dancing they raise monuments in history and memory and built what they consider as “Cretanism”.

The inhabitants of Anogeia believe that they are worthy descendants of the Kouretes and keepers of their tradition, their convictions founded on music and dance performances like Hyacintheia.

My ethnographical study is based on an in situ research I made in the summer of 1998 as well as on past experience and active participation in music and dance events, being myself of Cretan origin.