Sites & cities that bear the name of Snake Island

Snake Island

Today in : Ukraine
First trace of activity : ca. 4th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Ἀχίλλειος δρόμος, Δρόμον Ἀχιλλέως, Racecourse of Achilles, Ἀχίλλεια νῆσος, Ἀχιλλέως νῆσος, Island of Achilles, Alba, Λευκὴ, Leuke, Φιδονήσι, Fidonísi, Phidonísi, Snake Island, Serpent Island, Insula Șerpilor, Зміїний, Змеиный, Île des Serpents, ostriv Zmiyinyy, Yılan adası

Description : Snake Island (Greek Φιδονήσι Fidonísi), also known as Serpent Island (Romanian: Insula Șerpilor, Ukrainian: Зміїний, Russian: Змеиный), is an island located in the Black Sea, near the Danube Delta. The island is populated. A rural settlement of Bile was established in February 2007. The island was named by the Greeks Leuke (Greek: Λευκὴ, "White Island") and was similarly known by Romans as Alba, probably because of the white marble formations that can be found on the isle. According to Dionysius Periegetes, it was called Leuke, because the serpents there were white. According to Arrian, it was called Leuke due to its color. He mentioned the island was also referred to as the Island of Achilles (Greek: Ἀχιλλέως νῆσος and Ἀχίλλεια νῆσος) and the Racecourse of Achilles (Greek: Δρόμον Ἀχιλλέως and Ἀχίλλειος δρόμος). The island was sacred to the hero Achilles and had a temple of the hero with a statue inside. Solinus wrote that on the island there was a sacred shrine. According to Arrian in the temple there were many offerings to Achilles and Patroclus. Furthermore, people came to the island and sacrificed or set animals free in honour of Achilles. He also added that people said that Achilles and Patroclus appeared in front of them as hallucinations or in their dreams while they were approaching the coast of the island or sailing a short distance from it. Pliny the Elder wrote that the tomb of the hero was on the island. The uninhabited isle Achilleis ("of Achilles") was the major sanctuary of the hero, where "seabirds dipped their wings in water to sweep the temples clean", according to Constantine D. Kyriazis. Several temples of Thracian Apollo can be found here, and there are submerged ruins. According to Greek myths the island was created by Poseidon for Achilles and Helen to inhabit, but also for sailors to have an island to anchor at the Euxine Sea, but the sailors should never sleep on the island. According to a surviving epitome of the lost Trojan War epic of Arctinus of Miletus, the remains of Achilles and Patroclus were brought to this island by Thetis, to be put in a sanctuary, furnishing the aition, or founding myth of the Hellenic cult of Achilles centred here. According to another myth Thetis gave the island to Achilles and let him live there. The oracle of Delphi sent Leonymus (other writers called him Autoleon) to the Island, telling him that there Ajax the Great would appear to him and cure his wound. Leonymus said that on the island he saw Achilles, Ajax the Great, Ajax the Lesser, Patroclus, Antilochus and Helen. In addition, Helen told him to go to Stesichorus at Himera and tell him that the loss of his sight was caused by her wrath. Pomponius Mela wrote that Achilles was buried there. Ruins believed to be of a square temple dedicated to Achilles, 30 meters to a side, were discovered by the Russian naval Captain N. D. Kritzkii in 1823, but the subsequent construction of a lighthouse on the very site obliterated all trace of it. Ovid, who was banished to Tomis, mentions the island, so do Ptolemy and Strabo. The island is described in Pliny the Elder's Natural History, IV.27.1. It is also described in Arrian's Letter to Emperor Hadrian, a historical document movingly drawn upon by Marguerite Yourcenar in her Memoirs of Hadrian. Several ancient inscriptions were found on the island, including a 4th-century BC Olbiopolitan decree which praises someone for defeating and driving out the pirates that lived on the "holy island".

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