Vritomartis Βριτόμαρτις has many names.
She is the beautiful mermaid spirit or Goddess, or the real mermaid, depending where your beliefs take you...
Cretan Mythology can be seen as distinct from Greek mythology, however in the study of King Minos, Ariadne, Britomartis and many other Gods and Goddesses, the distinction over thousands of years has become blurred.
Minoan civilisation began as far back as 5000 BC on the island of Crete. So there is a lot of history and storytelling and myth; truths and half-truths and forgotten wisdom that accompany these tales. Her stories appear as early as Homer's writings.
The stories of Britomartis go something like this...
"She was a nymph, she was the daughter of Dictynna or she was Dictynna, or she invented hunting nets which are called diktia. She was called the Nymph of Gortys.
She was the daughter of Zeus and Karme. Or she was the daughter of Ariadne. She came from the town of Gortys in Crete or from Tarra.
She was a Minoan Goddess of mountains and hunting.
She was alluring and beautiful and was desired by King Minos. Some say she ran and hid from King Minos and in an attempt to escape him, she fell into the sea, but was caught in fishermen’s nets and saved. To show her gratitude she became their protector.
Some say she fell from Mount Dikti, the highest mountain in Eastern Crete, and was thus named after that mountain.
Some say she fled from Crete to Aegina where she was known as Aphaia and worshipped as a local deity for fertility and earthly cycles".
In Minoan seals, coins and rings she is shown with a demonic nature, carrying the Cretan double-headed axe and followed by wild animals.
What we do know is that she was found on coins discovered in the drowned city of Olous, which is now in the Bay of Elounda, and can be visited by snorkelling, much like a mermaid, in that beautiful bay.
Who is to know the truth? And who is to know and what imagery will touch our hearts now in this modern time, perhaps when we take some time out to swim in the beautiful blue waters of Crete, if we are really quiet and alert, we might see a mermaid swimming by in the crystal clear waters, and if we are lucky, we could ask her...
Some excellent titles regarding Cretan mythology and Greek mythology are available for sale below.
The hotel named Vritomartis in the south of Crete is named after this Goddess. This naturist resort on a beautiful coast is isolated and remote, scenic and private.
It is located 2.3 km from the town of Sfakia, also known as Chora Sfakion. The nudist beach is open for those not staying at the resort.