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Leivithra - The Mythology

From the viewpoint of Greek mythology, for the archaic Leivithra were the nine muses of Olympus and the singer and poet Orpheus significant.
Depending on the source, there are different representations of the events. Please see the links below.

Homer mentioned the Muses already in the Iliad. According to Hesiod, they are the nine daughters of Zeus and the Mnemosyne. As they came from Pieria, he called them Pierides. Other well-known names are Mnemonids or Olympiades. Hesiod himself met with them and received from their hands the gift of music.
They lived near sources, had divine knowledge, and were fond of literature, science, and fine arts. Only the Romans assigned their tasks to the individual Muses.

Several sanctuaries devoted to the Muses are spread all over Greece. In the 5th century BC the Macedonian King Archelaos honored them with a nine-day Panhelenic feast at ancient Dion.

A short overview about the Muses and their most important tasks:

The Muses of Wisdom

The Lyrical Muses

The Muses of the Theatre


In Greek mythology, a cave near Leivithra is considered to be the birthplace of Orpheus. He and his brother Linus were sons of Muse Calliope and the Thracian king Oeagrus. Some sources even call the god Apollo his father. He got his first musical instrument, a lyre, as a gift from Apollo, who also introduced him to the arts of music. Orpheus is said to have superhuman musical abilities. He is regarded as the most important poet in Greek mythology. All human beings are said to have succumbed to the magic of his music, and he must have moved plants and rocks to dance. Wild animals also approached him to listen to his music.

The first historical mention comes from the 6th century BC. A find in Delphi shows the figure of the Orpheus as one of the Argonauts. He accompanied the crew of the Argo in search of the Golden Fleece. When the sirens, with their singing, confused the senses of the crew, and wanted to lure the Argo to the cliffs of their island, Orpheus, on his part, adopted a song which surpassed that of the sirens in beauty and loudness. Thus their charm remained almost ineffectual (only one of his comrades jumped into the sea) and like Odysseus they sailed past the island undisturbed.

Orpheus married the nymph Euridike. When one day they met with a group Najades she was bitten by a serpent and died. Orpheus mourned her very much and decided to take Euridike back from the underworld. Accompanied by his lyre, he descended to Hades to ask him for the release of his beloved. His song was so wistful and mournful that he could persuade both Hades and his wife Persephone to take Euridike back to light. Hades, however, made the condition that Orpheus should not look around until he left the underworld with Euridike. Without thought, when he heard no sound behind him, he turned around and saw his wife disappear into the depths of the underworld. So he lost her a second time.

Mournfully, he turned away from life. His music was now sad and gloomy. He swore never to turn to another woman again. When Thracian women heard of his alleged hostility to women, they decided to kill him. They attacked Orpheus with stones which, however, he managed to steer away from him by his music. When the women saw that they could not kill him from afar, they approached him and murdered him with their hands. The parts of his body and his lyre threw them into the river. His head, always singing, has been driven from the waves to the island of Lesvos.
Orpheus is said to be buried in Leivithra.

The Destruction of Leivithra

According to the records of Pausanias a Thracian oracle said that Leivithra would be destroyed by a wild boar when the bones of the Orpheus saw the sunlight. The inhabitants paid no attention to this threat. But a sleeping shepherd, leaning against the tomb, moved the deck and the sun shone upon the remains of the deceased. In the night, the gods sent heavy rains and the river Sys (wild boar, biological name Sus Scrofa, y in New Greek as u) swelled and destroyed Leivithra. Other sources call an earthquake as the cause of the destruction of the place. Another theory is that heavy rainfall brought the water level of the lake at Kallipefki (over 1000 m high in the lower Olympian). A dam broke and the water finally fell to the valley and flooded the place.
Leivithra was populated from the 8th to the 1st century BC.



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