Having slayed the Minotaur in Knossos, Theseus the son of the king of Athens, abandoned Ariadne, his young Cretan bride here after she helped him escape from King Minas’s wrath – as Dana Facaros wrote: “This was, even in the eyes of Athenians, dishonest.”
Mary Renault found a neat explanation to save her hero’s face – he glimpsed Ariadne in the deepest stages of a bacchanalian intoxication, bloodstained and wild-eyed in the grips of the god Dionysos, and fearing to introduce the taint of madness to his family, he decamped pronto.
The rolling fertility of this mountainous and well-cultivated island, and the abundant production of wine and lemon liqueur rather enhance this interpretation!
The Naxiots claim the almost unique distinction of having agriculture as their main industry rather than tourism. It is true that this was one of the last islands to open up to tourism, although now the sandy beaches lining the entire west coast and the Venetian towers and old village houses, plus an airport, draw a large number of tourists.