🔼The name Kaloi Limenes: Summary
- Good Havens
- From (1) the adjective καλος (kalos), good, and (2) the noun λιμην (limen), harbor or port.
🔼The name Kaloi Limenes in the Bible
The name Kaloi Limenes occurs only once in the Bible, namely in Acts 27:8, where it serves as a landmark to describe Paul's perilous journey that would eventually conclude in his famous shipwreck on Malta. For some reason, all modern translations insist on translating this name and speak of "a place called Fair Havens" but Kaloi Limenes is a genuine name, which is still in use today.
Kaloi Limenes is a small town adjacent a natural harbor, situated about half-way the length of Crete's southern shore. It's possible that in Biblical times, Kaloi Limenes was the name of the harbor while the associated village was called Lasea, which may have come from a Semitic word for lion (in Hebrew ליש, layish), and which was subsequently transferred to the also still existing town of Lentas (Λεντασ), which name may also be derived from the word for lion, but the Greek one: λεοντας (leontas).
🔼Etymology of the name Kaloi Limenes
The name Kaloi Limenes obviously consists of two parts. The first part of our name is the plural form of the adjective καλος (kalos), meaning good (in Greek, the adjective assumes the same plurality as the noun it modifies):
The adjective καλος (kalos) means good, and while goodness is a notoriously difficult concept, it's marked by stability and perpetuity (whereas badness is marked by instability and temporariness).
The second part of our name is the plural of the noun λιμην (limen), meaning harbor or port:
The noun λιμην (limen) means harbor, haven or port, with an emphasis on safety and shelter. The noun λιμνη (limne) means lake, and comes from the verb λειβω (leibo), to pour or pour forth. The verb αλειφω (alpeipho) means to rub or smear over (mostly in a medical or festive sense), and the verb εξαλειφω (exaleipo), to rub out or away.
Rather contrarily, the noun λιμος (limos) means hunger or famine. The noun λοιμος (loimos) means plague or pestilence. The verb λυμαινομαι (lumainomai) means to ruin violently.
🔼Kaloi Limenes meaning
The name Kaloi Limenes means Good Havens or Lovely Shelters, which is obviously a rather ironic name for a harbor that was unfit for overwintering, or rather literally: to outstay a tempest (Acts 27:12).
When we take all the details of this story into account it becomes quite clear that it covers more than a mere anecdote. What precisely the author is saying is not wholly clear — besides that calling places good doesn't make them good — but he's surely not treating the reader to a sight-seeing trip.