FAFLAGOS AND PASTELAS: TWO MORE PLACES ON CRETE NAMED AFTER BYZANTINE GENERALS?
This paper argues that two place names in Heraklion Prefecture may record people and events occurring during the Byzantine campaigns to retake Crete from the Arabs (824-961 AD).
An attempt has been made to associate the name Faflagos (Φαφλάγγος), located on the coast near Kalami, Viannos in south Crete, with the verb παφλάζω = “lap, splash, gush”. Yet this seems unlikely, as it is a sheltered spot where the sound of the sea is rarely noticeable. Instead, the paper argues that the name may derive from a vernacular Cretan dialect form of Παφλαγών, by association with Sergios Neketiates, the Paphlagonian recorded in the Synaxarium Constantinopolitanum as the leader of an unsuccessful expedition to recover Crete for Byzantium in 843. On the basis of textual and other evidence, Faflagos may have been the hub of a hitherto unknown free Byzantine state established in the area in the mid-9th century.
Pastelas (Παστελάς) is the name of a steep hillside near the village of Martha in the Pediada district. This may be connected to Pastilas, the general who was cut down by the Arabs under Karamountis during the re-conquest of Crete by Nicephorus Phocas in 960-961. It is here argued that the place name Karantoulas (Καράντουλας = “scorpion, ancient man”), a mountainous site by the neighbouring village of Katofygi, should be regarded as a derisory reference to Karamountis.
Thus the two place names explored in the paper may well preserve the names of Byzantine generals, in a manner similar to Karteros, the coastal location east of Heraklion on the north coast.