Minos was a mythical king of Crete, celebrated for his administration of justice; was fabled to have been appointed, along with Æacus and Rhadamanthus, one of the judges of the dead on their descent into the netherworld.
He was the son of Zeus and Europa. After his birth, his mother married Asterius, the King of Crete. After the death of his stepfather, he quarrelled with his two brothers Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon over the kingship and eventually banished both of them. He married Pasiphae, daughter of the Sun and had four sons with her, Catreus, Deucalion, Glaucus and Androgeus as well as four daughters, Acalle, Xenodice, Ariadne and Phaedra. He asked Poseidon to send him a bull so that he could sacrifice it to concecrate his kingship. Poseidon granted his prayer but Minos kept the bull and sacrificed another one instead. Poseidon then made the bull wild and Pasiphae fell in love with it. She had Daedalus construct a hollow wooden cow on wheels, then approached the bull inside it and mated with it, giving birth to the Minotaur. Minos ordered Daedalus to construct a labyrinth and imprisoned the Minotaur inside it.
When his son Androgeus was killed in Athens, Minos launched an attack against the city with his fleet and first began to besiege Megara. It had been prophesied that Nisus, the King of Megara would die when a purple lock was pulled from his hair. His daughter Scylla fell in love with Minos and brought the lock to him, allowing him to conquer Megara. Disgusted by this betrayal, Minos had Scylla drowned. As the war continued, he prayed Zeus to help him against the Athenians and the god sent a famine and a pestilence in Athens. The Athenians asked the oracle what they should do and received the answer that they should grant any satisfaction Minos would demand. He compelled them to send seven youths and seven girls every nine years to be fed to the Minotaur. This continued until Theseus killed the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne and Daedalus.
Minos punished Daedalus by shutting him inside the labyrinth but he managed to escape to Camicus in Sicily by constructing wings for himself. Minos went to seek for him in Sicily. He carried a hollow shell with him and promised a great reward for anyone who could pass a thread through it. He finally came to the court of Cocalus where Daedalus was hiding. Cocalus gave the shell to Daedalus and he managed to pass the thread by tying it to an ant. Minos realized that he was hiding Daedalus and ordered Cocalus to surrender him. Cocalus agreed to do so but first invited him to have a bath. The daughters of Cocalus then killed Minos by pouring boiling water into his bath.
- Apollodorus. The Library.
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