Thursday, October 17, 2013

Minos: King of Crete, Son of Zeus and Europa

In Greek mythology, a dispute over the ruling of Crete led Minos to consult Poseidon for guidance. He asked the god to send an offering as a sign of his true kingship, so Poseidon sent a gleaming white bull from within the crashing waves. When Minos refused to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, he sent Pasiphae (Minos's wife) into an uncontrollable lust for it. In order to mate with it she requested the help of Daedalus, who built a hollow wooden cow. Pasiphae hid inside, and when the bull mounted the cow she conceived its child - the Minotaur (Minotauros, "the bull of Minos"). 

King Minos then ordered Daedalus to construct a palace to hide the Minotaur, so he created the Labyrinth. As Daedalus meddled with it, Minos imprisoned him and his son, Icarus, inside a tower. In order to escape Daedalus created huge wings from wax and feathers - and we all know how that one ended.

When King Minos's son, Androgeos, was killed after victoriously leading the games in Athens, Minos attacked Athens to avenge his son's death. After securing control of the city Minos granted peace to Athens, but on one condition: every nine years Athens must send seven of their finest young men and women maidens to Crete as a sacrifice to the Minotaur (sound suspiciously like The Hunger Games?). It would not be until the hero Theseus volunteered that the Minotaur would be killed and the Athenians saved. 

Since Daedalus had escaped (without poor Icarus), Minos traveled from city to city asking a riddle. He presented a spiral seashell and asked for it to be strung all the way through. When he reached Camicus, Sicily, King Cocalus fetched Daedalus to solve the riddle. Daedalus then tied a string to an ant, which walked through the seashell, stringing it all the way through. Minos knew Daedalus was in King Cocalus's court, and demanded he be handed over. Cocalus managed to convince him to take a bath first, then his daughters and Daedalus scalded him to death with boiling water. 

And so in death Minos became the judge of souls.

1 comment:

Joseph D'Amico said...

I've always loved the story of Minos. It has so many different substories, all of which I find very interesting. I think I like the Minotaur story the most, however, just because it is so weird and monster slaying is always cool. Although, in the top picture, I think the Minotaur kind of looks as if he is just sad and wants to leave, so I almost feel bad for him.