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A mythical king of Crete, the centre of the oldest legends of that island. He is the son of Zeus and of Europa; in Homer, brother of Rhadamanthys, father of Deucalion and Ariadne, and grandfather of Idomeneus. Residing at Gnossus as the "familiar friend of Zeus," he had a "nine-yearly" rule over the flourishing island [<italic>Od.</italic> xix 179], an expression which later generations explained as signifying periods of nine years; at the end of which he went into a cave sacred to Zeus, in order to hold converse with his father, and to receive the laws for his island. Just as he was thought to be the framer of the famous older Cretan constitution, so he was also considered a founder of the naval supremacy of Crete before the times of Troy; Hesiod calls him the "mightiest king of all mortals," who rules with the sceptre of Zeus over most of the neighbouring peoples. Later legend gives him another brother, Sarpedon, and a number of children (among others Androgeos, Glaucus, Catreus, and Phaedra) by his wife Pasiphae, a daughter of Helios and Perseis. When after the death of Asterin, the husband of Europa, he has driven away his brothers in consequence of a quarrel, he seizes the kingship of Crete, in which he is supported by Poseidon, who, on his prayer that he should send him a bull for sacrifice, causes a wonderfully beautiful snow-white bull to rise from the sea. But as he, desiring to keep it for his own herd, sacrifices another, the god to punish him inspires his wife Pasiphae (q.v.) with love for the bull. Homer [Od. xi 322] calls Minos the "meditator of evil"; in later times he was represented as a hard-hearted and cruel tyrant, especially on the Attic stage, because of the part he played in Attic legends. On account of the murder of his son Androgeos (q.v.) at Athens, he undertook an expedition of revenge against Attica, captured Megara (see NISUS), and compelled the Athenians to send him once in every nine years seven boys and seven girls to Crete, to be devoured by the Minotaur (q.v.; see also THESEUS). Tradition made him die in Sicily, whither he had pursued Daedalus (q.v.) on his flight, and where king Cocalus or his daughters stifled him in a hot bath. His Cretan followers interred him near Agrigentum, where his grave was shown. In Homer [Od. xi 568] Odysseus sees him in Hades with a golden sceptre in his hand, judging the shades; he does not appear in the legends as judge of the dead by the side of Aeacus and Rhadamanthys till later [Plato, Apol. 41 a, Gorg. 523 e].
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