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Parnassos – Parnassus - Parnasse


Parnassos in Greek, in English as Parnassus, and in French as Parnasse, is a mountain, rising to an altitude of 2,457 m (8,061 ft).

Geography and Mythology

Parnassus, a mountain in ancient Phocis in central Greece, was considered sacred.(See the map). Of its two peaks, one was devoted to Apollo, the other to Dionysus. The Apollonian oracle at Delphi and the Castalian spring, a sacred water source, were located there, as was the home of the nine Muses whose name in Greek, Calliope, Clio, Erato, Euterpe, Melpomene, Polymnia, Terpsichore, Thalia, and Urania. The mountain Parnassos is the mythical place where the 9 muses lived. The cave of Korykion Andron (Corycian Cave) is the exact place where they stayed according to the Greek mythology.


Parnassos was the son of the nymph Kleodora by the god Poseidon and the man Kleopompus. From the son of the nymph Kleodora - the holy mountain according to Stravonas - received the name Parnassus. Parnassus had inhabited the old city of Delphi, before it received its modern name. But when his city was flooded by heavy rainfall, during the Deucalionas flood, it was deserted by her frightened inhabitants who followed the howling of the wolves, also scared, who first climbed towards the mountain peak in order to survive.

At the point where the rain stopped and the water level ceased elevating, Parnassus and his refugee fellow citizens, built their new city which they called Lykoreia, after the Greek words for "howling of the wolves" - they say since the wolves had helped them escape.

Now, about the naming of the city Lykoreia, one of the most ancient cities, another myth exists which says that:

In the Korikio Andro, on a beautiful spring night, Apollo seduced the Korikian nymph, who then gave birth to Lykoros and he subsequently built the city, which received his name.

Ruins, near the Korikio Andro, are said to belong to ancient Lykoreia. Legend has it that Parnassus invented the oracles, from his observation of the flight of birds. The two highest peaks of Parnassus are Liakoura - the name is a derivative of Lykoreia - which stands at an altitude of 2457 metres, from the peak of which one can observe the most wonderful dawn and dusk, and the second is the peak of Gerontovrahos, 22 metres lower at an altitude of 2435 metres.

On the southern slope of Mt. Parnassus the landforms a deep cavity, a natural stone amphitheatre facing the sea and harbouring at its base the Sanctuary of Apollo, for many centuries antiquity's largest centre of pilgrimage.

Ancient Greeks believed that Delphi was the point where earth touched the divine; the navel of the earth where two eagles had come together when Zeus had them fly in opposite directions so that they might indicate the centre of the earth.

Delphi (Delphi) may be reached by road, across Boeotia (Biota) through Levadia and Arachova. Just beyond Levadia, the road turns westwards and winds through the mountains for about 17km till it reaches that famous junction, «the Triple Way». Here, according to legend, Oedipus, returning from Delphi, killed his father.

Deucalion’s Cataclysm

According to mythology, because the descendants of Titans were impious to gods and sinful, Zeus decided to eliminate them and Poseidon helped him. As soon as Prometheus heard about that he advised Deucalion and his wife Pyrra -both were devout and fair- how to escape the disaster. So, Deucalion built a boat in which he and his wife embarked and remained there until Zeus' and Poseidon's wrath had calmed down. In the meantime, Zeus had sent such a pelting rain upon humans that he flooded most of the places in Hellas and only those people who sought refuge in the high mountains were able to escape that catastrophe.

Deucalion and Pyrra after floating and drifting for nine days in the boat they came to Parnassus where, after the rain had stopped, they sacrificed to Zeus to thank him. Then Zeus seeing their gratitude sent Hermes to ask them what they wanted and they said, "People". Zeus ordered them to throw stones behind them and the stones, which Deucalion threw over his head, became men while the stones that Pyrra threw became women. Hence people were called metaphorically "laos" (=people) from laas (=stone). Deucalion and Pyrra had two sons Hellen and Amphictyon and two daughters Protogenia and Melantho. Hellen was the founder of a town in Thessaly which was called Hellas after him and the inhabitants, who were called Graeci ( Greeks ) after Graecus the son of Thessalus, changed their name into Hellenes after him. Hellen wedded Orseis and had three sons: Dorus, Xuthus and Aeolus, the first leaders of Hellenes. Xuthus ruled over Peloponnese and had two sons, Achaeus and Ion from whom Achaeans and Ionians derived their names. Aeolus reigned over Thessaly and the inhabitants were named Aeolians after him. Dorus and his people, who were called Dorians, dwelt the regions to the east of Parnassus.

Could it be possible to determine approximately the date of Deucalion's Cataclysm?

The prehistoric Hellenic Tradition says that it was during Deucalion's Cataclysm that the mountains in Thessaly, Olympus and Ossa, parted, the river bed in the valley of Tempi was formed and the lake of Thessaly (Herodotus Z, 129) discharged in the Aegean, thus converting itself into a large plain. On the other hand, the name itself "Thessaly" (thesis alos ==>position of the sea) reveals the geological state of this area, as it was thousands of years ago. But how many thousands of years ago? Scientists of Geology confirm that 12.000 - 15.000 years ago Thessaly was a lake and only around 10.000 B.C. at the end of the Pleistocene Epoch -when the recession of glaciers started- Thessaly took its current geological form. (History of the Greek Nation Vol. A. Page 12, Ekdotiki-Athens).

Therefore, we could relate Deucalion's Cataclysm, on the one hand, to the recession of the Northern Glaciations during the Warm Period, and on the other hand, to the information in "Timaeus" about the sinking of Atlantis around 10.000 B.C. which could have been caused by the melting of glaciers. Mention should be made here that in Hellas as well, traces of glaciers have been identified in Olympus, Pieria and Athamania mountains.

In conclusion, we could say that it seems sensible to assume that Deucalion's Cataclysm really took place and prehistoric Hellenes having experienced and recorded that big natural catastrophe in their memory bequeathed it to the memories of the coming generations.


Parnassus symbolizes poetry itself and represents the home of poets. Thus expressions such as «to live on Parnassus» is to practice poetry, and «the children of Parnassus» are the poets themselves. Parnassus has been a popular backdrop for artistic expression. For example, an antique bas-relief by Archelaos of Priene (3rd century B.C.) depicts the figure of Homer on the mountainside as the symbol of poetic inspiration. One of the most well known works to share this topos is the 15th century painting by Mantegna, which shows Orpheus on Parnassus, again as an embodiment of poetic inspiration. In the 16th century, Raphael interprets the image of Mount Parnassus as a paradise of Renaissance humanism.


There are two Ski Centres at Kellaria - Fterolaka, altitude 1.650 - 2.250 m, and one at the point called Gerondovrahos, at an altitude of 1.800 metres