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Minos (mĪˈnŏs, –nəs) [key], in Greek mythology, king of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. He was the husband of Pasiphaë, who bore him Androgeus, Glaucus, Ariadne, and Phaedra. Because Minos failed to sacrifice a beautiful white bull to Poseidon, the god caused Pasiphaë to conceive a lustful passion for the animal, by whom she bore the Minotaur, a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. The craftsman Daedalus constructed the labyrinth in which the monster was confined. When King Aegeus of Athens killed Androgeus, Minos vengefully forced Athens to pay him an annual tribute of seven youths and seven maidens. These he shut up inside the labyrinth, where they either starved or were devoured. Finally Theseus joined a group of the victims and killed the Minotaur. Minos became the most prosperous king of the Mediterranean area, renowned as much for his justness as his power. Along with Aeacus and Rhadamanthus, he became one of the three judges of Hades. Minos was presumably the name or title of an ancient Cretan king. The Minoan civilization is named for him.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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