The first king and settler of Aigina was, according to mythology, the son of Zeus and nymph Aigina, the latter gave her name to the island. Aigina was the daughter of Asopos River and Metopi, Zeus was attracted by Aigina and therefore he took the shape of an eagle and flew to the Island of Saronikos Sea.

Aiakos - Important persons of Aigina

Their love gave birth to Aiakos. When Hera found out that Zeus had yet another son, her anger grew bigger and she sent a snake in a river of Aigina, which in turn gave birth to thousands of eggs, having as a result snakes crawling all over the island. Additionally, hot masses of air surrounded the island for months, causing the death of the entire population of the island. Aiakos was left alone to mourn. His wishes and mourning were finally heard by Zeus, who in turn, sent his typical thunder, striking on the island. On the spot, a holy Oak tree started growing and ants carrying grains started to climb on the trunk of the tree. At this point Aiakos asked his father to give him as many citizens as the number of the ants on the tree. Already by night, Zeus turned the ants into human beings. Aiakos gave the name Myrmidons to the new inhabitants of Aigina. 

Aiakos was married to Endiida from Megara and she was the daughter of Skironas. They had two sons; Pileas, father of the heroic figure of Achilleas and Telamonas, who was father of the equally heroic figure of Aiantas. The family of Aiakidon was indeed heroic! Aiakos fell in love with a Niriis named Psamathi and besides the effort she put to avoid him; she was transformed into a seal, they had a son called Fokos. Aiakos loved his younger son very much, which made his two older sons jealous of their father’s love for their younger brother and killed him during a Disc Throw game. Aiakos furious with the deeds of his sons and the loss of the third, forced them to abandon Aigina. Telamonas went to Salamine and Pileas followed the Myrmidons to Fthia in Thessaly. Fokos’s descendants eventually left from Aigina and settled in Fokida, which was apparently named after them.

Aiakos, besides the tragic events that took place, was a wise and fair man and he was well respected by the Greeks. There was a time when a big drought troubled Greece; it was the punishment for the killing of Stymfalos, King of Arcadia, by Pelopas. The Oracle of Delfi announced that only Aiakos could save them. Therefore, Aiakos wore, once again, his hieratic cloth and prayed from the peak of a mountain to Zeus. Zeus was once again there and heard his prays, causing a flooding rain.

Aiakos also took part in the construction of the Trojan Wall, this was made possible thanks to the cunning plan of Apollo and Neptune, who were aware of their need to have a common man for the construction of the Wall, so that the latter would not be flawless. Apollo foresaw that Troy would be conquered more than once and that the descendants of Aiakos would be amongst the conquerors. Indeed, Aiakides did conquer Troy, initially with Telamonas, then with Aiantas and finally with Achilleas. Aiakos was Zeus’s favourite son, he was well respected and fair and this tempted Zeus to turn him immortal. But this was against the laws of Moires and beyond the jurisdiction of the Father of Gods and Humans. Therefore, Zeus made Aiakos a Judge in Ades next to his two other descendants; Minoan and Rodamanthi, processing in court the dead.

The people of Aigina honoured the memory of Aiakos by organising annual festivals called Aiakia. At the centre of the city, there used to be a temple dedicated to Aiakos, which was called Aiakio. It was built entirely by white marble and was allegedly his grave, surrounded by olive trees. Aiakos was also famous outside the borders of Aigina and he was even honoured in Athens and in many other places in Greece. In Athens, some of the most important families were allegedly descendants of Aiakos. Miltiades, Kimonas, Thoukidides, Alkiviades and many important figures of Athens were part of the family of Aiakides.

Aigina History - Mythology