(Κρήτη), one of the largest islands in the Mediterranean, now called Candia, and by the Turks Kirid. It is 160 miles long, but of very unequal width, varying from 35 to 6 miles. It is situated at the entrance of the Archipelago, having the coast of the Morea to the south-west, that of Asia Minor to the north-east, and that of Libya to the south. Great antiquity was affected by the inhabitants, and it has been supposed by some that the island was originally peopled from Egypt; but this is founded on the conclusion that Crete was the Caphtor of De 2:23, etc., and the country of the Philistines, which seems more than doubtful. SEE CAPHTOR. Surrounded on all sides by the sea, the Cretans were excellent sailors, and their vessels visited all the neighboring coasts. Though extremely bold and mountainous, this island has very fruitful valleys (Virgil, AEn. 3, 106), and was highly prosperous and full of people in very ancient times: this is indicated by its "hundred cities" alluded to in the, epithet ἑκατόμπολις, applied to it by Homer (Il. 2:649). It was remarkable for its patriotism, although it kept aloof from the intestine wars of Greece. One of its peaks was the famous Mt. Ida, and in one of its remarkable caverns was the renowned Labyrinth of antiquity. This island was also the scene of many of the fables of mythology, and was even reputed as the abode of "the father of gods and men." The chief glory of the island, however, lay in its having produced the legislator Minos, whose institutions had so important an influence in softening the manners of a barbarous age, not in Crete only, but also in Greece, where these institutions were imitated. The natives were celebrated as archers. Their character was not of the most favorable description (sec Polyb. 6:46, 3; 47, 5; Died. Sic. Exc. Vat. p. 131 Livy, 44:45; Ovid, Ars Amat. 1:297; Plutarch, Philopoem. 13); the Cretans, or Kretans, being, in fact one of the three K's against whose unfaithfulness the Greek proverb was intended as a caution — Kappadokia, Krete, and Kilikia. In short, the ancient notices of their character fully agree with the quotation which Paul produces from "one of their own poets" (προφήτης) in his Epistle to Titus (i. 12), who had been left in charge of the Christian church in the island: The Cretans are always liars (ἀεὶ ψεῦσται, eternal liars), evil beasts (κακὰ θηρία, Angl. 'brutes'), slow bellies" (γαστέρες ἀργαί, gorbellies, bellies which take long to fill). The quotation is usually supposed to have been from Callimachus's Hymn on Jove, 8; but Callimachus was not a Cretan, and he has only the first words of the verse, which Jerome says he borrowed from Epimenides (q.v.), who was of Crete, and from whose work (Περί χρησιμῶν, see Clemens Alex. Strom. 1:129) the citation appears to have been made (see Gottschalk, De Epimenidepropheta, Altdorp, 1714; Hoffmann, De Paulo scripturas profan. ter allegante, Tub. 1770, p. 17; Heinrich, Epimenides a. Kreta, Lpz. 1801). Ample corroboration of the description which it gives of the ancient inhabitants may be seen in the commentators (see Wolfii Cur. 4:554 sq.). SEE CRETIAN. Mr. Hartley, in his Researches in Greece, says, "The Cretans of the present day are precisely what they were in the days of the apostle Paul; they are notoriously, whether Turks or Greeks, the worst characters in the Levant." (See the Penny Cyclopoedia, s.v. Candia.) years 1866 and 1867 the whole force of the Ottoman empire, and thereby enlisted the sympathy of all the Christian powers of Europe, most of which urged the Turkish government to consent to the annexation of the island to Greece. (In November, 1867, the fate of, Crete was not yet decided.) (See Paulin, Description phyique de l'le de Crete, Paris, 1859.)
It seems likely that a very early acquaintance took place between the Cretans and the Jews. The story in Tacitus (Hist. v. 2) that the Jews were themselves of Cretan origin, may be accounted for by supposing a confusion between the Philistines and the Jews, and by identifying the Cherethites of 1Sa 30:14; 2Sa 8:18; Eze 25:16; Zep 2:5, with Cretan emigrants. In the last two of these passages they are expressly called Κρῆτες by the Sept., and in Zep 2:6, we have the word Κρήτη. Whatever conclusion we may arrive at on this point, there is no doubt that Jews were settled in the island in considerable numbers during the period between the death of Alexander the Great and the final destruction of Jerusalem. Gortyna (q.v.) seems to have been their chief residence, for it is specially mentioned (1 Maccabees 15:23) in the letters written by the Romans on behalf of the Jews, when Simon Maccabseus renewed the treaty which his brother Judas had made with Rome (see 1 Maccabees 10:67). At a later period Josephus says (Ant. 17:12, 1; War, 2:7, 1) that the pseudo-Alexander, Herod's supposed son, imposed upon the Jews of Crete Crete was an independent state, with some variations of government, until it was conquered by the Romans, B.C. 67, under Metellus, hence called Cretius, and united in one province with Cyrenaica, which was at no great distance (Strab. 10:475) on the opposite coast of Africa. SEE CYRENE. It is possible that in Tit 3:1, there may be an implied reference to a turbulent condition of the Cretan part of the province, especially as regarded the Jewish residents. It formed part of the Eastern empire until taken by the Saracens in 823, and was recovered from them by the emperor Nicephorus Phocas in 981. On the establishment of the Latin empire of Constantinople in 1204, it came by purchase into the hands of the Venetians, and was retained by them until the year 1669, when, after a twenty-four years' siege of the capital, the conquest of the whole island was effected by the Turks, to whose dominions it still nominally belongs. In August, 1866, the Christians of Crete rose in insurrection against the Turkish rule, and demanded annexation to the kingdom of Greece. They resisted throughout the when on his way to Italy. And later still, Philo (Leg. ad Cai. § 36) makes the Jewish envoys say to Caligula that all the more noted islands of the Mediterranean, including Crete, were full of Jews. Thus the special mention of Cretans (Ac 2:11) among those who were in Jerusalem at the great Pentecost is just what we should expect. No notice is given in the Acts of any more direct evangelization of Crete, and no absolute proof can be adduced that Paul was ever there before his voyage from Caesarea to Puteoli, though it is barely possible that he may have visited the island in the course of his residences at Corinth and Ephesus. SEE TITUS. The circumstances of Paul's recorded visit were briefly as follows. The vessel in which he sailed to Italy, being forced out of her course by contrary winds, was driven round the island, instead of keeping the direct course to the north of it. In doing this, the ship first made the promontory of Salmone, on the eastern side of the island, which they passed with difficulty, and took shelter at a place called Fair-Havens, near to which was the city Lasea. But after spending some time at this place, and not finding it, as they supposed, sufficiently secure to winter in, they resolved, contrary to the advice of Paul (the season being far advanced), to make for Phoenice, a more commodious harbor on the western part of the island; in attempting which they were driven far out of their course by a furious east wind called Euroclydon, and wrecked on the island of Melita (Acts 27). SEE SHIPWRECK (OF PAUL). It is evident from Tit 1:5, that the apostle himself was here at no long interval of time before he wrote the letter. We believe this to have been between the first and second imprisonments. SEE TITUS, EPISTLE TO. Titus was much honored here during the Middle Ages. The cathedral of Megalo-Castron was dedicated to him; and his name was the watchword of the Cretans when they fought against the Venetians, who themselves seem to have placed him above St. Mark in Candia, when they became masters of the island (Pashley's Travels in Crete, 1:6, 175, Lond. 1837). See Hock's Kreta (Gott. 1829), and some papers from the Italian in the Museum of Class. Antiq. (vol. 2, Lond. 1856). Also Meursius, De Rhodo, Creta, etc. (Anatol. 1675); Neumann, Rer. Creticar. spec. (Gott. 1820); Smith, Dict. of Class. Geogr. s.v. Creta; Spratt's Researches in Crete (London, 1865, 2 vols. 8vo). SEE GREECE.