This magnificent native oak forest of Foloi or Pholoe, has been given its name by Hercules himself. It’s that old!
Folos (Pholus) was Hercules’ friend and he was a centaur. Centaurs were guys half human and half horses that used to live in this forest.
Hercules was heading towards Erymanthos mountain to hunt a troublemaker boar. On his way he passed by foloi oak forest and his friend Folos (Pholus) hosted him with hunt meat and a delicious wine made by the mighty Dionysos. Hercules, a huge eater and drinker, couldn’t be happier.
The smell of this top quality wine attracted the other centaurs who didn’t like at all the fact that Hercules was drinking their precious wine.
They started throwing rocks and large pieces of wood at him, in order to stop him consuming their divine wine.
Hercules was not an easy going fellow, so all they did was to make him mad with rage. He shot some of them down with his poisoned arrows and he hunted the rest until Cape Malea. That was a really long chase!
When he turned back he found Folos, his friend, dying. He had been accidentally hit by a poisoned arrow. Sorrowful Hercules buried his friend in this oak forest and named it after him, Foloi (Pholoe).
We joined our local mountaineering club, ΣΑΟΟ to a hike crossing Foloi (Pholoe). The forest in fall colors stimulated our senses. We almost felt the frightened Centaur returnees eavesdropping, trying to find out if Hercules was still around.
The source text from the Apollodorus library
As a fourth labour he ordered him to bring the Erymanthian boar alive; now that animal ravaged Psophis, sallying from a mountain which they call Erymanthus. So passing through Pholoe he was entertained by the centaur Pholus, a son of Silenus by a Melian nymph.
He set roast meat before Hercules, while he himself ate his meat raw. When Hercules called for wine, he said he feared to open the jar which belonged to the centaurs in common. But Hercules, bidding him be of good courage, opened it, and not long afterwards, scenting the smell, the centaurs arrived at the cave of Pholus, armed with rocks and firs.
The first who dared to enter, Anchius and Agrius, were repelled by Hercules with a shower of brands, and the rest of them he shot and pursued as far as Malea. Thence they took refuge with Chiron, who, driven by the Lapiths from Mount Pelion, took up his abode at Malea. As the centaurs cowered about Chiron, Hercules shot an arrow at them, which, passing through the arm of Elatus, stuck in the knee of Chiron.
Distressed at this, Hercules ran up to him, drew out the shaft, and applied a medicine which Chiron gave him. But the hurt proving incurable, Chiron retired to the cave and there he wished to die, but he could not, for he was immortal. However, Prometheus offered himself to Zeus to be immortal in his stead, and so Chiron died. The rest of the centaurs fled in different directions, and some came to Mount Malea, and Eurytion to Pholoe, and Nessus to the river Evenus. The rest of them Poseidon received at Eleusis and hid them in a mountain.
But Pholus, drawing the arrow from a corpse, wondered that so little a thing could kill such big fellows; howbeit, it slipped from his hand and lighting on his foot killed him on the spot. So when Hercules returned to Pholoe, he beheld Pholus dead; and he buried him and proceeded to the boar hunt.