In Greek mythology, Minos was described as one of the three son from the union of Europa and Zeus, when Zeus was in the form of a bull. Europa's husband was the king of Crete, Asterion, who looked over the boys as he his own. The three sons were Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthus. These three men, after death were made judge in the underworld. It was their task to judge the dead in order to assign where their placement was in the underworld based upon the merits of their life.Minos married Pasiphae, immortal daughter of the sun god Helios. When Asterion died, it was unclear which of the three sons should ascend to power. But it was Minos whose name actually means king, who was fated to be king of Crete. But Minos' ascension to power was a difficult journey, he competed for the kingship of Crete with his brothers. Minos asked the god to send an offering as a sign of his true kingship.
The god of sea, Poseidon, send a beautiful white bull, which emerged to miraculously from the waves. This confirmed to all concerned that Minos was their true king. When Minos saw the beautiful white bull, he refused to sacrifice it to Poseidon and replace it with another. Angered with Minos, Poseidon plotted to punish him for his arrogance. So Poseidon turned the bull wild and implanted sexual desire towards bull in Pasiphae (wife of Minos). Pasiphae mated with bull and gave birth to Asterius, who was called Minotaur (Minotaur was a monster half man and half bull).
|Pasiphae and the Bull
Pasiphae nursed Minotaur, but he grew and became ferocious, being the unnatural offspring of a woman and a beast, he had no natural source of nourishment and thus devoured man for sustenance. Minos, after getting advice from the oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus (a craftsman and inventor) construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. Its location was near Minos' palace in Knossos.
By his wife, Pasiphae, Minos fathered Ariadne, Androgeus, Deucalion, Phaedra, Glaucus, Catreus, Acacallis and Xenodice. By a nymph, Pareia, he had four sons, Eurymedon, Nephalion, Chryses and Philolaus, who were killed by Heracles in revenge for the murder of the latter's two companions. (Hercules Labor 9 - Obtain the girdle of Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons) By Dexithea, one of the Telchines, he had a son called Euxanthius. By Androgeneia of Phaestus he had Asterion, who commanded the Cretan contingent in the war between Dionysus and the Indians.
Minos had sexual relation with many women, Pasiphae bewitched him, and whenever he took another woman to his bed, he ejaculated wild beasts and the women perished. The Athenian Procris, bribed by a golden crown admitted a lover in her bed, and having being discovered by her husband, fled to the court of Minos.
|King Minos and Procris
But Minos fell in love with her. Minos owned a Swift Dog and a Dart-That-Flew-Straight, and in return for these gifts, Procris let herself be bribed again, sharing his bed, but having
first given him the Circaean root to drink that he might not harm her. Afterwards, fearing Pasiphae, Procris came to Athens, and being reconciled with her husband Cephalus.
Androgeus, the eldest son of Minos had accidentally killed in Athens. According to other version, Androgeus set sail for Athens to take part in the Pan-Athenia games. Being strong and skillful he did very well, winning some events outright. He so became a crowd favorite, much to the resentment of Pallantides (nephews of King Aegeus) and they assassinated him. King Minos attacked Athens and asked Aegeus for his son's assassins and if they were to be handed to him, the town would be spared. However not knowing who the assassins were, king Aegeus surrendered the whole town to Minos' mercy. His retribution was that at end of every Great Year the seven young man and seven young woman were to board a boat and sent as a tribute to Crete, to be fed to the Minotaur.
This continued until Theseus killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne (Minos daughter). Daedalus disclosed to Ariadne the way out of the Labyrinth so that she could help Theseus.
|Daedalus and his son Icarus
Minos shut up the guilty Daedalus and his son, Icarus, in the Labyrinth or inside a tower. But Daedalus constructed wings from wax and feathers, and escaped. Icarus was killed when he flew to close to the sun. Daedalus safely made his way to Sicily.
Minos, attacked Megara during a war with Athens over the death of his son Androgeus. Nisus was the King of Megara, had a lock of purple hair that kept him safe from harm. Eros caused his daughter Scylla to fall in love with Minos. In another version, she fell in love with Minos from a distance, and after cutting off the purple lock, she presented it to Minos.
|King Nisus and his daughter Scylla
However, Minos was disgusted with her act and he tied Scylla by the feet to the stern of a ship and drowned her. Accroding to other version, Minos's ships set sail, Scylla attempted to climb up one of them. But Nisus, who had turned into a sea eagle or osprey, attacked her. Scylla transformed into a bird as well.
Minos searched for Daedalus by travelling from city to city asking a riddle. He presented a spiral seashell and asked for a string to be run through it. When he reached Camicus, King Cocalus, knowing Daedalus would be able to solve the riddle, privately fetched the old man to him. He tied the string to an ant which, lured by a drop of honey at one end, walked through the seashell stringing it all the way through. Minos then knew Daedalus was in the court of King Cocalus and demanded he be handed over. Cocalus managed to convince Minos to take a bath first, where Cocalus' daughters killed Minos.
|King Minos as judge in the underworld
In some versions, Daedalus himself poured boiling water on Minos and killed him. After his death he became a judge in the underworld.
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