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Paphos

Villas Paphos - Holiday Pictures of Paphos Seafront   Villas Paphos - Cyprus Pictures of Paphos Seafront Walkway   Villas Paphos - Paphos Harbour and Castle        
Paphos Seafront   Seafront   Paphos Fort   Paphos Acropolis   Chapel Georgious   Paphos fishing boats   Paphos Carnival
                         
           
Tomb of the Kings   Amphitheatre   Aphrodite Baths   Paphos Mosiacs   Views over Paphos   Wishing Tree Paphos   Paphos Gardens
 

 

Paphos and its Founding Myths

In the founding myth, even the town's name is linked to the goddess, as the eponymous Paphos was the son (or, in Ovid, daughter) of Pygmalion whose ivory cult image of Aphrodite was brought to life by the goddess as "milk-white" Galatea.

The author of Bibliotheke, the Hellenistic encyclopedia of myth long attributed to Apollodorus, gives the genealogy. Pygmalion was so devoted to the cult of Aphrodite that he removed the statue to his palace and kept it on his couch. The diamon of the goddess entered into the statue, and the living Galatea bore Pygmalion a son, Paphos, and a daughter, Metharme, Cinyras, perhaps the son of Paphus, but perhaps the successful suitor of Metharme, founded the city under the patronage of Aphrodite and built the great temple to the goddess there. According to another legend preserved by Strabo, whose text, however, varies, it was founded by the Amazons.

Old Paphos

Old Paphos, now the site of the village of Kouklia on a hill a few miles from the sea and what is now Paphos seafront. It was not far from the Zephyrium promontory and the mouth of the Bocarus stream.

Archaeology shows that Palaepaphos (Kouklia) has been inhabited since the Neolithic period. It was a centre of the cult of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and of pre-Hellenic fertility deities. Aphrodite's mythical birthplace was on the island. The founding myth is interwoven with the goddess at every level, so that Old Paphos became the most famous and important place for worshipping Aphrodite in the ancient world.The Greek names of two ancient kings, Etevandros and Akestor, are attested in Cypriot syllabary on objects of seventh century BC found in Kourion.

Aphrodite at Paphos

The Greeks agreed that Aphrodite had landed at the site of Paphos when she rose from the sea.[11] According to Pausanias, her worship was introduced to Paphos from Syria; but much more probably it was of Phoenician origin. Before it was proved by archaeology it was understood that the cult of Aphrodite had been established before the time of Homer (c. 700 BC), as the grove and altar of Aphrodite at Paphos are mentioned in the Odyssey (viii. 362). Archaeology has established that Cypriots venerated a fertility goddess before the arrival of the Greeks, in a cult that combined Aegean and eastern mainland aspects. Female figurines and charms found in the immediate vicinity date as far back as the early third millennium. The temenos was well established before the first structures were erected in the Late Bronze Age: "There was unbroken continuity of cult from that time until 391 AD when the Roman Emperor Theodosius I outlawed all pagan religions and the sanctuary fell into the ruins in which we find it today."

Here the worship of the goddess was centred, not for Cyprus alone, but for the whole Aegean world. The Cinyradae, or descendants of Cinyras, were the chief priests, Greek by name but of Phoenician origin. Their power and authority were very great; but it may be inferred from certain inscriptions that they were controlled by a senate and an assembly of the people. There was also an oracle here. Few cities have ever been so much sung and glorified by the poets. The remains of the vast sanctuary of Aphrodite are still discernible, its circumference marked by huge foundation walls. After its destruction by an earthquake it was rebuilt by Vespasian, on whose coins it is represented, as well as on earlier and later ones, and especially in the style on those of Septimius Severus. From these representations, and from the existing remains, Gustav Friedrich Hetsch, an architect of Copenhagen, has attempted to restore the building.

New Paphos

   Mosiac from the House of Dionysos - God of wine 3rd c AD

Nea Paphos was founded on the sea near a good natural harbour. It lay about 60 stadia or 12 km northwest of the old city. It, too, had a founding myth: it was said to have been founded by Agapenor, chief of the Arcadians at the siege of Troy, who, after the capture of that town, was driven by the storm that separated the Greek fleet, onto the coast of Cyprus. (Pausanias. An Agapenor was mentioned as king of the Paphians in a Greek distich preserved in the Analceta and Herodotus (vii. 90) alludes to an Arcadian "colony" in Cyprus.

In reality it was probably founded by Nicocles, the last king of Palaepaphos, based on an inscription recording his founding of the temple of Artemis Agrotera at Nea Paphos. The inhabitants of Marion were probably also transferred to this new city after its destruction in 312 BC by Ptolemy. A hoard of unused silver coins (in the Cyprus museum) found under the Hellenistic House and dating to the end of the 4th c. BC are the earliest find at the site and indicate its founding date.

Palaepaphos always retained the pre-eminence in worship of Aphrodite, and Strabo tells that the road leading to it from Nea Paphos was annually crowded with male and female votaries resorting to the ancient shrine, and coming not only from the latter place itself, but also from the other towns of Cyprus. When Seneca says (N. Q. vi. 26, Epistle 91) that Paphos was nearly destroyed by an earthquake, it is difficult to say to which of the towns he refers. Dio Cassius (liv. 23) relates that it was restored by Augustus, and called "Augusta" in his honour; but though this name has been preserved in inscriptions, it never supplanted the ancient one in popular use.

St Pauls Pillar in Paphos

   According to the biblical Acts of the Apostles, after landing at Salamis and proclaiming the Word of God in the synagogues, the prophets and teachers, Barnabas and Saul of Tarsus, travelled along the entire southern coast of the island of Cyprus until they reached Paphos There, Sergius Paulus, the Roman proconsul, was converted after Saul rebuked the Sorcerer Elymas In Paphos, Acts first identifies Saul as Paul.
 

 

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