Mount Parnassus is named after Parnassos, the son of the nymph Kleodora and the man Kleopompus. A city, of which Parnassos was leader, was flooded by torrential rains. The citizens ran from the flood, following wolves' howling, up the mountain slope. There the survivors built another city, and called it Lykoreia, which in Greek means "the howling of the wolves."
While Orpheus was living with his mother and his eight beautiful aunts on Parnassus, he met Apollo who was courting the laughing muse Thalia. Apollo became fond of Orpheus and gave him a little golden lyre, and taught him to play it. Orpheus's mother taught him to make verses for singing.
As the Oracle of Delphi was sacred to the god Apollo, so did the mountain itself become associated with Apollo. According to some traditions, Parnassus was the site of the fountain Castalia and the home of the Muses; according to other traditions, that honor fell to Mount Helicon, another mountain in the same range. As the home of the Muses, Parnassus became known as the home of poetry, music, and learning.
Parnassus was also the site of several unrelated minor events in Greek mythology.
- In some versions of the Greek flood myth, the ark of Deucalion comes to rest on the slopes of Parnassus. This is the version of the myth recounted in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
- Orestes spent his time in hiding on Mount Parnassus.
- Parnassus was sacred to the god Dionysus.
- The Corycian Cave, located on the slopes of Parnassus, was sacred to Pan and to the Muses.
Today, the slopes of Mount Parnassus are the location of two ski centres. The Parnassos Ski Centre is composed of two sections, Kellaria and Fterolakka, which together make up the largest ski center in Greece. A smaller ski centre (only two drag lifts) called Gerontovrahos is across a ridge from Kellaria. Parnassus is mined for its abundant supply of bauxite which is converted to aluminium oxide and then to aluminium.