Argynnis pandora, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Argynnis pandora, Crete - photo © Ch. Almpantakis

Introductory Note

Experts wοuld say that butterflies are insects of the order Lepidoptera, belonging to the genus of arthropods… We have already been familiar with them since our early childhood; who hasn’t been left absolutely ecstatic when observing a butterfly landing on a blooming flower?

Two large wings attached on a tiny body, a flying palette of colors defies the wind and all kinds of obstacles with impressive lightness, a fleeting and ephemeral image of paradise that never goes unnoticed.

During the centuries, people of all ages have seen and depicted this flying miracle. Its presence is related to good luck, freedom, ascent to the scale of life and beauty, and transformation due to the metamorphosis stages; from a caterpillar to a chrysalis that eventually transforms into a butterfly. This is one of the most impressive transformations that can be observed in nature. A depiction of our own inner transformation…

The representation of the soul, in ancient Greek culture, through the symbol of the butterfly is not a coincidence. The ancient Greeks called the butterfly “psyche” (=soul) and its presence believed that brings humans close to their beloved deceased’s souls who freely, liberated from gravity and time fly around us. On the other side, the chrysalis symbolized the dead carcass that is torn and sets the soul free, able to fly away from any restriction in an early reminder of the Resurrection.

The beauty of the butterfly and the significance of its evolution through three stages of transformation was of great importance from antiquity until today. Thus, here in Crete in the Minoan era, the depiction of the butterfly related to the great goddess-mother is a fact. It was a symbol of beauty and was depicted on seal stones, frescos, and representations.

It is obvious why butterflies are also present in the visual arts, where they inspired artists to create unique works of art.

Today, the development of digital technology is a powerful tool that contributes to the spread of information and leads us on a magical journey into the world of butterflies in Crete. Photos and information with the perspective and knowledge of Kalliopi Borboudaki are aiming to introduce us to another miracle of life in Cretan nature.

Nikos Gigourtakis

Historical researcher, Archaeologist