Minos and the Moderns: Cretan Myth in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art (Classical Presences)

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According to La Marle's reading of Linear A, [ 7 ] which have been heavily criticised as arbitrary [ 8 ] we should read mwi-nu ro-ja Minos the king on a Linear A tablet. The royal title ro-ja is read on several documents, including on stone libation tables from the sanctuaries, where it follows the name of the main god, Asirai the equivalent of Sanskrit Asura , and of Avestan Ahura.

La Marle suggests that the name mwi-nu Minos is expected to mean ' ascetic ' as Sanskrit muni , and fits this explanation to the legend about Minos sometimes living in caves on Crete. He lived at Knossos for periods of nine years, where he received instruction from Zeus in the legislation which he gave to the island. He was the author of the Cretan constitution and the founder of its naval supremacy. On the Athenian stage Minos is a cruel tyrant , [ 16 ] the heartless exactor of the tribute of Athenian youths to feed to the Minotaur.

To reconcile the contradictory aspects of his character, as well as to explain how Minos governed Crete over a period spanning so many generations, two kings of the name of Minos were assumed by later poets and rationalizing mythologists, such as Diodorus Siculus [ 17 ] and Plutarch — "putting aside the mythological element", as he claims— in his life of Theseus. This was the 'good' king Minos, and he was held in such esteem by the Olympian gods that, after he died, he was made one of the three 'Judges of the Dead', [ 19 ] alongside his brother Rhadamanthys and half-brother Aeacus.

The wife of this 'Minos I' was said to be Itone daughter of Lyctius or Crete a nymph or daughter of his stepfather Asterion , and he had a single son named Lycastus , his successor as King of Crete. Lycastus had a son named Minos, after his grandfather, born by Lycastus' wife, Ida, daughter of Corybas. This 'Minos II'— the 'bad' king Minos— is the son of this Lycastus, and was a far more colorful character than his father and grandfather.

Doubtless there is a considerable historical element in the legend, perhaps in the Phoenician origin of Europa; it is possible that not only Athens, but Mycenae itself, were once culturally bound to the kings of Knossos, as Minoan objects appear at Mycenaean sites. Minos himself is said to have died at Camicus in Sicily , whither he had gone in pursuit of Daedalus , who had given Ariadne the clue by which she guided Theseus through the labyrinth. He was killed by the daughter of Cocalus , king of Agrigentum , who poured boiling water over him while he was taking a bath.

The earlier legend knows Minos as a beneficent ruler, legislator, and suppressor of piracy. According to the Odyssey he spoke with Zeus every nine years or for nine years. He got his laws straight from Zeus himself. When Minos' son Androgeos had won the Panathenaeic Games the king, Aegeus, sent him to Marathon to fight a bull, resulting in the death of Androgeos.

Outraged, Minos went to Athens to avenge his son, and on the way he camped at Megara where Nisos lived. Learning that Nisos' strength came from his hair, Minos gained the love of Scylla and her aid in cutting off her father's hair so that he could conquer the city. After his triumph, he punished Scylla for her treachery against her father by tying her to a boat and dragging her until she drowned.

On arriving in Attica, he asked Zeus to punish the city, and the god struck it with plague and hunger. An oracle told the Athenians to meet any of Minos' demands if they wanted to escape the punishment. Minos then asked Athens to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every nine years to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, the offspring from the zoophilic encounter of Minos' wife Pasiphae with a certain bull that the king refused to sacrifice to Poseidon, which he had placed within a labyrinth he commanded his architect Daedalus to build.

The Minotaur was defeated by the hero Theseus with the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne. One day, Glaucus was playing with a ball [ 25 ] or mouse [ 26 ] and suddenly disappeared. The Curetes told the Cretans "A marvelous creature has been born amongst you: whoever finds the true likeness for this creature will also find the child.

Polyidus of Argos observed the similarity of a newborn calf in Minos' herd, colored white and red and black, to the ripening of the fruit of the bramble plant, and so Minos sent him to find Glaucus. Searching for the boy, Polyidus saw an owl driving bees away from a wine-cellar in Minos' palace. Inside the wine-cellar was a cask of honey, with Glaucus dead inside. Minos demanded Glaucus be brought back to life, though Polyidus objected.

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Minos shut Polyidus up in the wine-cellar with a sword. When a snake appeared nearby, Polyidus killed it with the sword. Another snake came for the first, and after seeing its mate dead, the second serpent left and brought back an herb which brought the first snake back to life. Following this example, Polyidus used the same herb to resurrect Glaucus. Minos refused to let Polyidus leave Crete until he taught Glaucus the art of divination.

Polyidus did so, but then, at the last moment before leaving, he asked Glaucus to spit in his mouth. Glaucus did so, and forgot everything he had been taught. Minos justified his accession as king and prayed to Poseidon for a sign. Poseidon sent a giant white bull out of the sea. Daedalus built her a wooden cow, which she hid inside.

Daedalus then built a complicated "chamber that with its tangled windings perplexed the outward way" [ 30 ] called the Labyrinth , and Minos put the Minotaur in it. To make sure no one would ever know the secret of who the Minotaur was and how to get out of the Labyrinth Daedalus knew both of these things , Minos imprisoned Daedalus and his son, Icarus , along with the monster.

Daedalus and Icarus flew away on wings Daedalus invented, but Icarus' wings melted because he flew too close to the sun. Icarus fell in the sea and drowned.

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From: medimops Berlin, Germany Seller Rating:. Some of the major Minoan archaeological sites are:. This is also referred to as "Zakro" in archaeological literature. Minoans beyond Crete. Minoans were traders, and their cultural contacts reached far beyond the island of Crete — to Egypt's Old Kingdom , to copper-bearing Cyprus , Canaan , and the Levantine coasts beyond, and to Anatolia. In late , Minoan-style frescoes and other Minoan-style artifacts were discovered during excavations of the Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri , Israel , leading archaeologists to conclude that the Minoan influence was the strongest foreign influence on that Caananite city state.

These are the only Minoan remains ever found in Israel. Minoan techniques and styles in ceramics also provided models, of fluctuating influence, for Helladic Greece. Along with the familiar example of Thera , Minoan "colonies" can be found first at Kastri on Cythera , an island close to the Greek mainland that came under Minoan influence in the mid-third millennium EMII and remained Minoan in culture for a thousand years, until Mycenaean occupation in the 13th century.

The use of the term "colony", however, like "thalassocracy", has been criticized in recent years. Minoan cultural influence indicates an orbit that extended not only throughout the Cyclades so-called Minoanisation , but in locations such as Egypt and Cyprus.

Paintings from the 15th century BC in Thebes, Egypt depict a number of individuals, who are Minoan in appearance, bearing gifts. Inscriptions record these people as coming from Keftiu , or the "islands in the midst of the sea", and may refer to gift-bringing merchants or officials from Crete. Certain locations within Crete emphasize it as an "outward looking" society.