Eliros Mare owes its name to the ancient Cretan city of Eliros. Ancient Eliros is located in the southwest part of Chania. In Eliros people particularly honoured Apollo and the heroes Phylakides and Philandros, the son of Apollo and the nymph Akakallis. People of the Cretan city Eliros sent to Delphi a bronze statue of a goat suckling these two children, which suggests that they have been abandoned by their mother.
It is said that Eliros was the birthplace of the lyrical poet Thaletas (7th century B.C.), who was considered as the inventor of the Cretic rhythm, the national paeans and songs, with many of the institutions of his country. In the Hellenistic and the Roman times, Eliros is considered to have been the most important ancient city in south-western Crete. It was independent and autonomous and had minted its own coin.