Who Is The Aegean Sea Named After?

The Aegean Sea in Greece.
The Aegean Sea in Greece.

The Aegean Sea is an elongated portion of the Mediterranean Sea. It is 380 miles long with a surface area of 82,600 square miles. About 1,400 islands and islets adorn the Aegean Sea. Out of those islands, the largest island is Crete Island. Other islands include Rhodes, Karpathos, Kythera, Kasos, and Antikythera. Aegean Sea lies in between Turkey and Greece. Fishing is an important economic activity in most of the islands. There are several explanations about the source of the name “Aegean Sea.” However, the Greek word “Aegean” simply means the “wavy coast.”Traditionally, the sea was known as Archipelago which in English meant the chief sea.

Varied Origins Of The Name “Aegean Sea”

Firstly, some people say that the name was derived from a Greek town’s name called Aegae. Aegea was the queen of Amazons who supposedly died in the sea. A third explanation is that the Aegean Sea got its name from a “sea goat” called Aigaion. The sea goat was a name given to Aegeas who was father to Theseus. Aegeas drowned himself in the sea. He thought that his son Thiseas had died in Crete in the famous expedition to defeat the Minotaur.

The Popular Greek Mythology

Among the many myths about the origin of the Aegean Sea is the popular myth that the name is attributed to the King of Athens called Aigeas. King Minoas was a Crete king. His son Androgeo had been killed by the Athenians. In order to revenge his son’s death, he declared war against Athens and won. Subsequently, the Athenians became his subjects. As tribute to his empire, King Minoas would demand a sacrifice of Athenian boys and girls every night. During one of those sacrifice times, the King of Athens’ son, Thiseas, decided it was time to end the pattern of bloody sacrifices. So, he took the place of one of the boys and accompanied those to be sacrificed to Labyrinth. A mythical Minotaur was believed to be responsible for devouring the sacrifices. Thiseas determined to kill him.

Enroute to the Labyrinth, Thiseas met King Minoas’ daughter called Ariadne. The two fell in love and Ariadne helped Thiseas win the war against Minotaur. After killing him, he began a journey back home with Ariadne beside him. However, Thiseas abandoned her on the island of Naxos and proceeded back to Athens without her. Unfortunately, he forgot to hoist the white sails as a sign of victory. SO when the father saw a black sails, instead, he assumed his son was dead. Consequently, he threw himself from the cliff at the Poseidon temple and died. Thiseas got home safely and victorious. But, he was met with the sad news of his father’s death. Subsequently, the sea was named after Aegeas, Thiseas’ father.

This Greek mythology is the one that has been widely accepted as the explanation for the origin of the Aegean Sea’s name.


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