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Lesvos: Mólyvos (Míthymna)

Way up north

Molyvos, Lesbos, Greece

Up at the northernmost tip of the island is Míthymna, although everyone calls it Mólyvos, its Venetian name. The prettiest town on Lésvos, ancient Míthymna was Mytilíni’s arch-rival for centuries and the birthplace of the poets Arion and Longus. Achilles besieged Míthymna, but with little success until the daughter of the king fell in love with him and opened the city gates, a kindness Achilles rewarded by having her slain for betraying her father.

The stories also say it was the site of the tomb of Palamedes, the cleverest man in Greece, who invented several letters of the alphabet, weights and measures and dice, and tricked Odysseus himself into going to Troy.

Odysseus never forgave him, and planted a fake letter from Prium and gold trinkets in his tent and accused him of treason. As Flavius Philostratus wrote in the 3rd century Life of Apollonius of Tyana: ‘Palamedes found his bitterest enemies in Odysseus and Homer; for the one laid an ambush against him of people by whom he was stoned to death, while the other denied him any place in his epic.’

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Text © Dana Facaros

Images by Güldem Üstün, Morton1905, Photograph by Mike Peel (, Sean Wallis, Vicky villa, Petra