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Legends of the Cres and Losinj islands

 

          Legends have existed within people and with people for a long time, telling us stories about the past, about events and heroes connected to other legends and stories, for which we do not know if they had taken place and how they had occurred.

The creation of the Kvarner Islands took place a very long time ago, 25.000 years B.C.  Islands Cres and Lošinj were one island in the ancient times and together with smaller surrounding islands they were known under the common name Apsyrtides.  It is assumed that in the Roman times a channel had been dug near present-day Osor town, which divided the island into two islands, Cres and Lošinj.  The archipelago was named Apsyrtides after Absyrtus, the son of King Aeetes of Colchis.  Here begins one of ancient legends about the creation of the Cres-Lošinj archipelago. It is a story about Greek Argonauts looking for the Golden Fleece. The story goes:

          King Aeetes of Colchis owned the Golden Fleece. A brave young man called Jason, using trickery and with the help of King’s daughter Medea, a sorceress who was deeply in love with Jason, seized the Golden Fleece and fled with his friends Argonauts on a ship called Argo. The king’s son Absyrtus started chasing the thieves with his own ship. After a long journey he caught up with the thieves. Medea tricked her brother Absyrtus into negotiation and Jason secretly killed him. Medea then dismembered Absyrtus’ dead body and scattered his limbs in the sea. From Absyrtus’ dismembered body the islands of Absyrtus - the Apsyrtides - were created. That is the way in which, according to an ancient legend, islands Cres and Lošinj and the archipelago around them were formed.

          According to another legend, as well as according to a Greek legend about Argonauts, Absyrtus was Medea’s brother who came to Cres looking for her. His ship sank there during a storm so together with his friends he founded a city called Apsyrtos on a tight strait, today known as Osor.

          The third legend says that King Absyrtus had a sister called Medea, who as a Queen ruled a large, but not very rich country far beyond the sea. She was evil and she envied her brother on his fortune and fame. She kept thinking about getting hold of his lands. Then a supreme counsellor suggested her to trap and fraudulently kill Absyrtus. They carried out their plan. One day Queen Medea turned up in front of Osor on a big and lavishly decorated galley. Gold and precious stones sparkled everywhere. The citizens of Osor came to the coast to admire the ship which was different from anything they had seen before. Only Absyrtus stayed locked in his court because he did not know to whom the galley belonged. Then the courtiers came out of the galley. They were lavishly dressed and with presents in their hands they went to the court in order to invite the queen’s brother in her behalf to a big feast she was preparing on the boat. Surprised with his sister’s sudden visit,  Absyrtus - not wanting to offend her - went to the ship. There he sat at the richly sat table and untimely drank from a chalice full of poisoned wine. After that Medea’s soldiers broke in Osor, robbed it and demolished its walls.

          All of these events were historically described as the destructive campaign of Saracens to our islands.

 

 

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