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Minoan Lines Shipping S.A. (Shipping company, Greece)

Last modified: 2014-08-02 by ivan sache
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[Minoan Lines house flag]

House flag of Minoan Lines - Image by Jarig Bakker, 31 October 2005

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Presentation of Minoan Lines

Minoan Lines operate highspeed ferries between Greece and Italy (Venice line: Patras - Igoumenitsa - Kerkyra [Corfu] - Venice; Ancone line: Patras - Igoumenitsa - Ancone) and between continental Greece (Piraeus) and Crete (Iraklion).

Source: Company website

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2006

House flag of Minoan Lines

According to Brown's Flags and Funnels of Shipping Companies of the World (1995) [lgr95], the house flag of Minoan Lines is orange with a white disk charged with a Minoan prince.

Jarig Bakker, 31 October 2005

The name of the company and its emblem recalls the so-called pre-Hellenic Minoan civilization, that flourished in Crete from the IInd millenary to 1100 BP.

In the Greek mythology, Minos, son of Zeus, was the King of Crete. He was so wise and fair-minded that he was appointed one of the three judges of the Underworld after his death, along with Eachus and Rhadamanthus.
Minos' lineage was involved in a series of dreadful events. These myths are still well-known and have given several words and expressions in the modern languages.
Minos' wife, Pasiphae, was seduced by a white bull sent by God Poseidon. She gave birth to the half-man and half-bull monster Minotaurus. Minos jailed the monster into a palace called the Labyrinth. Since the Labyrinth was described as a maze, it is the origin of the modern word labyrinth, but it was indeed the Double Axe's Palace, from labrys, the Cretan sacred double axe. The Labyrinth was designed by Daedalus and his son Icarus. The word dédale is used commonly in French as a synonym of labyrinthe, especially to designate complicated structures (streets in an old city, corridors in a building, laws...). The two architects were also jailed in the Labyrinth, from which they escaped with wings made of feathers and wax. Young Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell down into the sea.
Athens sent to Minos every year a group of young people used to feed Minotaurus. King of Athen Theseus set an expedition in order to get rid of this bloody tribute. He entered the Labyrinth, found Minotaurus and killed him. He found his way back through the maze using the thread provided to him by Ariadne, the daughter of Minos and Pasiphae. This is the origin of the expression "Ariadne's thread", used to designate a vital link. Theseus abducted Ariadne and abandoned her on the island of Naxos on his way back to Athens. Close to the port, he raised a black sail instead of a white one, which was interpreted by his father Aegeus, waiting on the cliffs, as the sign of Theseus' death. Aegeus jumped down into the sea, later named the Aegean Sea.
Theseus eventually married Phedra, Ariadne's sister. She fell in love with her son-in-law Hippolytes, who strongly rejected her. Out of her mind with both anger and desire, Phedra claimed to Theseus that Hippolytes had attempted to rape her. Innocent Hippolytes was killed by a sea monster sent by Poseidon upon Theseus' request. Smitten with remorse, Phedra hang or poisoned herself.

These myths have inspired ancient tragedians, such as Euripides (The coronation of Hippolyte, 428 BP) and Seneca (Phedra, Ist century). In 1677, Jean Racine published his masterpiece Phèdre, which was extremely daring: Phedra's forbidden passion is expressed in a very explicit way and she dies on stage at the end of the piece, two characteristics that were not really welecome at that time. This probably explains why the most "famous" part of the piece is Théramène's account, during which Théramène relates Hippolyte's death. The account is very very very long and le récit de Théramène is still used in French as the synonym for purple passage. The myths also inspired musicians, such as Jean-Philippe Rameau (Hippolyte et Aricie, opera, 1733) and Richard Strauss (Ariadna auf Naxos, chamber opera, 1912). The minotaurus is omnipresent in Pablo Picasso's world.

Minos was considered as a mythological heroe until the beginning of the XXth century. In 1900-1905, the English archeologist Arthur Evans excavated a hill located in the borough of Knossos, in the outskirts of Iraklion. Evans found well-preserved remains of a palace he identified as Minos' palace. In spite of controversial "reconstitutions" made by Evans until the 1930s, mostly to preserve the site, the palace of Knossos is one of the most extraordinary archeologic sites in the world. Most artifacts found by Evans are shown in the Museum of Iraklion, funded by the archeologist scared by the threats of war at the end of the 1920s. In contrast to the practice of that time, Evans did not "borrow" the most precious artifacts for Western museums.
According to Evans' findings and other excavations made in Crete, modern historians consider Minos as the archetype of the sovereigns who ruled the cities-states in Crete from the IInd millenium to 1100 BP, therefore the name of Minoan given to that pre-Hellenic civilization which blossomed in Crete from the IInd millenary to 1100 BP. Homer (Odysseus, XIX, 179) states that Minos was the son and confident of "Mighty Zeus". Every nine years, he climbed upon the holy mountain and entered Zeus' cave to be judged by his father. If Zeus was unhappy, Minos would disappear forever; if Zeus was happy, Minos would climbed down, nine years younger, with a renewed sacred mandate. The kings of the Cretan cities were therefore most probably rulers of divine essence.

The most fascinating remains of the palace of Knossos are probably the frescos, carefully transported by Evans into the Museum of Iraklion. They are of very modern design and show nice people involved in pleasant activities, without the hieratic character of the Egyptian and Oriental representations of that time. A feminine figure shown on a fresco is so modern that it was nicknamed La Parisienne. Another famous fresco shows acrobats playing with bulls, which were central in the Cretan religion.
The young man used by Minoan Lines as its symbol does not appear on a fresco but is a stucco relief painted on a brick red painted wall of the great hall of the western wing of the palace of Knossos. Its height is about 2.20 m. The figure was nicknamed "the Feather-crowned Prince" or the "Lily Prince". His crown is indeed made of a headband stuck with lily flowers; three long feathers emerge from one of the flowers. The "Prince" is the only royal character shown on the frescos found in Knossos; he is reprsented walking in a garden crowded with butterflies. These frescos contributed to the elaboration of modern myths about a very peaceful and happy Cretan civilization (related to the mythic Golden Age), which was disputed by several historians, who have found evidence of bloody wars between the cities-states.

Main sources:

  • Encyclopaedia Universalis
  • Kostas Papaioannou. L'art grec. Citadelles & Mazenod (1993)
  • L'art de l'Antiquité classique. Elsevier-Sequoia (1978)

Ivan Sache, 7 January 2006