Mythology for the name of Ionian Sea
Io, the princess of Argos, was the priestess of Hera. Zeus fell in love with her. In order to avoid Hera’s suspicions, he turned Io into a white heifer.
Zeus was with Io in the clouds when Hera was looking for him, she saw him with Io. Zeus pretended that he had never seen that cow before and offered Io as a present to Hera, who in turn sent her away having Argus – who had hundred eyes – to watch her. Zeus sent god Hermes, who lulled Argus to sleep and eventually killed him. After Io was free, she wandered trying to avoid Hera’s range.
So, the Ionian Sea was named after her wanderings in her attempt to escape. On her travels, she met Prometheus who told her that she would get back her human form again, but she would have been wandering for many years. Io’s wanderings finished to Nile, where she re-obtained her human nature and delivered her son, Epaphus. Many generations after him, Hercules was born and he was the one who set Prometheus free.
Corfu Island' s Ancient Names
Corfu has a long history through the ages. Corfu was named Corkyra, who was a naias nymph of the Argolis, daughter of the river Assopos. She was abducted by Poseidon, the god of sea, to the island and bore his son, Phaiax. Since then, the inhabitants of the island were called Phaecians, as mentioned by Homer.
Another name of Corfu in the ancient times was Drepane, - which means scythe – because of its shape.
According to Homer, Corfu was also named Scheria. The Phaecians had moved from Hyperia. King Nausithus surrounded the city with walls, built houses and temples in order to protect his people from the Cyclops, who plundered them.
After the Greeks had conquered Troy, Ullysses, the most well known hero, started his adventurous return journey back to Ithaca, which lasted 10 whole years. The reason for this long delay was the implacable hatred that god Poseidon had against Ullysses, as he was the one who had blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus, so he continuously restrained him from arriving home by generating tempest, which wrecked his boat. But Athena, who was the goddess of wisdom, battle and war and certain crafts, protected him (at those times the gods of Olympus had their own friends and enemies!), she ceased the tempests and led his craft into an island. So Ullysses reached the coast of Corfu and fell asleep.
At those times, Alkinoos, son of Nausithus, was the king of the Phaecians. Nausica, his daughter, being pushed by Athena in her dreams, went with her maids to the river to wash the clothes; she found Ullysses and gave him shelter in the palace. In this way Homer shows that hospitality was very important to the Greeks since the ancient years. After Ullysses had recounted his adventures, King Alcinoos offered him a ship, properly equipped, to take him back to Ithaca. He was also the king who gave shelter to Jason and the Argonauts from the Colchains who pursued them after they had stolen the Golden Fleece from Colchis with the help of the sorceress and the princess of Colchis Medea. It was a quest to bring it back to the king of Iolcus, Pelia, who had overthrown his father, in order to take the kingdom back in his hands.
The name of Corfu is also related with Gorgyra or Gorgo, the monstrous Medusa, who was snake-haired and had the power to transform everyone looking at her into stone. Perseus with the aid of goddess Athena managed to kill her, cutting of her head, as Medusa was one of the three Corgons who was mortal. Pegasos (the winged horse) and Chrysaor were born from her blood.
Medusa is depicted on the west façade of the Doric Temple of Artemis, in Kanoni peninsula in Corfu. The “Gorgo pediment” is the oldest archeological finding (590-580 BC – Middle Archaic Period) of the excavations in Greece (Archeological Museum of Corfu).
It is also said that the name Corfu is derived from the corypho = coryphi (peak), by the twin peaks of the Corfu town where the old fortress is located.