Kourites - The Protectors of Zeus

The Kourites and the origin of dancing

According to mythology the Greek name for Crete - Kriti is derived from the name of its first inhabitants, the Kourites who lived on the top of Mount Psiloritis.

They were seven armed but good-tempered giant half-gods, who invented agriculture and became curators using dance and herbs.

Greeks believed that dancing was invented by the Gods and therefore they had associated it with their religious and worshipping ceremonies.

They believed that the Gods offered this gift to some select mortals only, who in turn taught dancing to their fellow-men.

The origin of dancing is attributed to Rea who taught this art to the Kourites, who roamed the Greek world, offering their good services where necessary. Kronos had dethroned his father Uranus. Since he was afraid that he might also be dethroned by his own children, he was eating them as soon as they were born.

Kourites CoinHis wife Rea, however, deceived Kronos when their last child Zeus was born. She hid Zeus in a dark cave in Crete and instead, she gave a stone wrapped in swaddling clothes to Kronos to eat. She also asked the Kourites to dance a war dance around the cave, shouting and striking their shields with their swords, so that Kronos would not hear baby Zeus crying.

KouritesWhen later Zeus dethroned his father, the Kourites became the priests in the new world. Many years later, Zeus’ wife, Hera, asked them to kill Epaphos, a child that Zeus had had with a mortal woman.

The Kourites carried out the goddess’ wish but Zeus got very angry, forgot about the protection they had once given him, and killed them with a thunderbolt.

Their decedents continued these war dances as part of their religious ceremonies.

Chania (Hania)|Heraklion (Iraklion)|Rethymnon|Lasithi