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Sphinx (Riddle of)
King Minos of Crete
Minos was the mythical king of Crete. He was the son of
and the mortal Europa. He was raised in the royal city of Cnossus with his two brothers, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon. He was married to Pasiphae, daughter of the sun god
. Throughout many stories, Minos acts as an antagonist to the Greek heroes. Though the Athenians viewed him as a wicked and malevolent character, others considered him wise and just, if a little harsh towards others.
Minos Conquers Megara
In this story, Minos beseiges Megara, only to find that it is impenetrable as long as their king, King Nisus, had a red lock of hair hidden amongst his white hair. Fortunately for Minos, King Nisus' daughter,
, fell in love with him.
She, told as of her own will and by convincing from Minos, cut the lock from her father's head, and the city fell. When Minos found out Scylla commited this act, he was enraged. It was said shortly after, Scylla died of drowning. (In an alternate story, Minos drowns her himself. In yet another version, Scylla is transformed into a sea gull forever hunted by the ghost of her father in the form of a sea eagle.)
In the myth, Minos finds himself in a dispute over the sovereignty of Crete. He prays to the god
to send an offering as a sign of his kingship. Poseidon answers by sending a magnificent white bull from the sea. This confirmed Minos as the true king. The bull was intended to be sacrificed to Poseidon; however, King Minos attempted to steal the bull for himself and replaced it with another bull from his herd. When Poseidon discovered this he was infuriated. As retribution, Poseidon made Minos' wife, Pasiphae, fall madly in love with the white bull. She was so infatuated that she wished to mate with the beast. She convinced the king's inventor,
, to create for her a giant wooden cow, which she concealed herself in, thereby getting herself inpregnated by the bull. The resulting child born had the head of a bull and the body of a human, and it was known as the Minotaur, or Minotaurus (literally meaning "the bull of Minos").
Apalled by the creature, Minos had Daedalus construct a maze to hold the beast in known as the Labyrinth. He then punished Daedalus by locking him and his son
in a high tower.
One of Minos' sons, Androgeos, attended the Olympic Games and was victorious in all events. Out of jealousy, he was murdered by fellow competitors. Because of this, Minos attacked and conquered Athens. He agreed to make peace, so long as every nine years fourteen of the finest young men and maidens to the island to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. When the hero Theseus discovered this, he was horrified and immediately volunteered to be one of the tributes. When he arrived, Minos' daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with him. She agreed to help Theseus in exchange for their marriage. Theseus agreed and Ariadne gave him a ball of twine. Theseus used this, found the Minotaur, and slew him. In another story, Minos made
Theseus retrieve a ring he had thrown into the sea.
Polyidus and Glaucus
In one story, one of Minos' sons, Glaucus, goes missing. Minos requests the help of a seer named Polyidus. The seer finds the boy drowned in a jar of honey. Enraged, Minos locks Polyidus up with the body of his son and orders him to bring the boy back to life. A snake appears in front of Polyidus and he kills it. The seer cannot believe his eyes when another snake appears and revives the dead snake with herbs. Polyidus takes the herbs and uses them to revive Glaucus.
Up to and After Death
Daedalus, being the brilliant inventor he was, created a pair of wax wings for him and his son. After warning Icarus not to fly to close to the sun, the two fly away from the tower. Unfortunately, Icarus flies to close to the sun and falls to his death. Daedalus flees to the court of King Cocalus along the southern coast of Sicily. Minos pursues Daedalus, seeking him out with a seemingly impossible task: threading a spiral shaped Triton shell. Knowing Daedulas could complete the task, King Cocalus gives the problem to Daedalus, and he solves it by attaching the thread to an ant and leading it through the shell with a drip of honey. Minos then orders Cocalus to release Daedalus to him. In an attempt to save Daedalus, Cocalus offers the King a bath first. Minos accepts, but he is drowned in the tub Cocalus' daughters. In another version of the story, Daedalus himself kills the king by pouring boiling water on the King. After his death, Minos becomes one of the three judges of the Underworld.
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