by Dr. Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.

According to Greek tradition, Crete was a nymph, who gave her name to the island Crete.

The name of the nymph and her origin and life were in various tales associated with the legendary history of the island. Crete was sometimes regarded as the daughter of one of the nine Curetes — the sons of the earth and the attendants of the young Zeus in Crete. Elsewhere she was mentioned as the daughter of King Asterion who had married Europa and adopted her sons Minos, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. However, it was also said that she was one of the daughters of Atlas, who had various children.

In some stories Crete was a wife of Minos. She is also mentioned as the mother of Queen Pasiphaë, the wife of the Cnossian king Minos. According to some, Crete and Zeus became the parents of Car, the father of one of the Greek tribes — the Carians. Due to this relation with Zeus they said sometimes that Crete was a wife of Ammon. Zeus-Ammon was adopted in Greece from the Lybian seer and ram god Ammun, who became in the Egyptian New Kingdom Ammun-Re identified also with the sun god.

The name of this nymph — Crete — and the tales about her origin and about her relations with Helios or Zeus served to demonstrate the glory of the island of Crete, showing it as a powerful and important region, which was visited by gods.



  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 60.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 1.2.