At Knossos it was quiet; it was sunny, and it was hard to believe that once upon a time, 18,000 people lived within those time-worn walls — from 8,000 BC until Thera decided the fate of the world with lava, fire, and ocean torrent. Thinking on this, it was even harder for me to believe that Thera was still smoldering waiting to pour her venom once again on the Olympian Islands when mortals made their nests in Santorini. But, that’s another story from another island. Greece has about 6,000 islands. Knossos is on Crete.
The island of Crete, the largest of the 6,000, is the cradle of Zeus – who was born somewhere in those rain-eaten mountains that rose imposingly above me, catching my eye. He lived there, fed by goats and bees, in a cave above the Lasithi plateau. Then he learned to shoot lightning – because the arrows were not “worthy” of the wrath of the god raised by a goat named Amalthea.
Meanwhile, Knossos grew up in the shadow of other legends: The Minotaur is the beast born of Pasiphae, the wife of the Cretan king Minos, within the silent walls under a lazy sun. Knossos, in my opinion, is annoyingly anchored between myth and legend. Daedalus and Icarus created the labyrinth on this wonderful island, Ariadne passionately loved Theseus – and her cluster is still a symbol of Crete: wherever you are on the island, Ariadne will bring you home. You will never get lost in Crete. That’s what the locals told me, they who strongly believed their own sayings, their eyes gleaming with hope and devotion.
Legends create dreams, and that’s all Knossos left these Minoan descendants. Archaeologists are still looking for answers: the palace was once full of life. But what kind of life did the Minoans have? They weren’t warriors – we know that. They cherished a snake goddess in their fists. We know. Hundreds of amphorae show us drinking – maybe beer, maybe wine. They also had amphorae for honey and olive oil. And they prayed to stones and trees. In the sun, in the water, and all that was life then. And sometimes they danced with the bulls – their favorite sport.
Archaeologists – led by Sir Arthur John Evans – found treasures at Knossos, between walls eaten by weather and rain, which is why he is the focus of a lesser worshiped in a bronze statue at the entrance, one that judges you harshly and superiorly when you pass it in the palace courtyard. However, they found nothing to show who the Minoans really were.
Since I first saw them, I’ve been in I love with them. “The Lily Prince” and “Dolphins,” the frescoes that are reproductions, an attempt by Evans to show us the glory of the palace before Thera. The “Prince of lilies” with a golden crown with peacock feathers which to my surprise is one of the most wonderful color combinations for a crown worthy of a prince, with long hair, black as ebony, left in the wind, which made me almost I envy him, surrounded by graceful lilies occupies a place of honor is one of the main attractions. As I passed him, I noticed especially the strange wisdom and liveliness in his olive-colored eyes. We also could not ignore the fact that he seemed to analyze us, the humble tourists who gathered around him to admire his too-obvious beauty.
“Dolphins” as archaeologists call them seemed more like dinosaurs. I noticed that for the back the ocean borrowed them from its azure, for the lower part they took a few fluffy clouds from the clear summer sky, the Sun itself gave them some rays that they wear like gold necklaces, and Hades he marked them with black snouts and split scorpion-like tails. I still remember how scary they looked with sharp teeth, with a menacing trick in their eyes as if they were pandering to me and could jump to tear me at any moment. They were surrounded by small goldfish and dozens of black globes with sharp spikes that I assumed were sea urchins.
I was impressed to see the peacocks walking arrogantly on the alleys built 5,000 years ago and completely ignoring me as if I didn’t exist or was far too unimportant to honor me with a simple glance. Knossos Palace, uncared for by nature and man, has not lost its former charm and grandeur, and this made me feel small and insignificant in the shadow of the ruined columns of paradise.