Lemnian Chryse in Myth and Reality
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Ancient literary sources record a number of small islands with the name Chryse in the Greek world. The most famous of these was located off the coast of Lemnos. The Lemnian Chryse first appears in mythology in the context of the Argonautic Expedition, when Jason erected there an altar in honour of Athena, or a local nymph. Ancient vase paintings depict the altar as a mound, something that literary sources also seem to allude to. Chryse’s altar was protected by a tutelary snake which became notorious for biting the hero Philoctetes. This event occurred when the Achaeans stopped at Chryse on their way to attack Troy. However, the Lemnian Chryse is not just a myth. Appian confirms that the island did exist in 73 BC, when a battle took place there between the Romans and an army of Mithridates 6th of Pontus. According to Pausanias, Chryse sunk in the sea not long before his time. This paper will present all evidence relating to Chryse and argue that its “catastrophe” was not total and that part of the island may still be above the Aegean Sea.