1. The son of Zeus and Europa, brother of Rhadamanthus, and king of Crete, where he is said to have given many and useful laws. After his death he became one of the judges of the shades in Hades. (Hom. Il. xiii. 450, xiv. 322, Od. xi. 321, 567, xvii. 523, xix. 178; comp. MILETUS.) He was the father of Deucalion and Ariadne; and, according to Apollodorus (iii. 1. § 1, &c.), Sarpedon also was a brother of his. Diodorus (iv. 60; comp. Strab. x. p. 476, &c.) relates the following story about him. Tectamus, a son of Dorus, and a great-grandson of Deucalion, came to Crete with an Aeolian and Pelasgian colony; and as king of the island, he became the father of Asterius, by a daughter of Cretheus. In the reign of Asterius, Zeus came to Crete with Europa, and became by her the father of Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus. Asterius afterwards married Europa; and having no issue by her, he adopted her three sons. Thus Minos succeeded Asterius, and married Itone, daughter of Lyctius, by whom he had a son, Lycastus. The latter became, by Ida, the daughter of Corybas, the father of another Minos, whom, however, some also called a son of Zeus. It should be observed, that Homer and Hesiod know only of one Minos, the ruler of Cnossus, and the son and friend of Zeus; and of this one they on the whole relate the same things, which later traditions assign to a second Minos, the grandson of the former; for here, as in many other mythical traditions of Greece and other countries, a rationalistic criticism attempted to solve contradictions and difficulties in the stories about a person, by the assumption that the contradictory accounts must refer to two different personages.
2. A grandson of No. 1, and a son of Lycastus and Ida, was likewise a king and law-giver of Crete. He is described as possessed of a powerful navy, as the husband of Pasiphae, a daughter of Helios, and as the father of Catreus, Deucalion, Glaucus, Androgeus, Acalle, Xenodice, Ariadne, and Phaedra. (Apollod. ii. 1. § 3.) He is said to have been killed in Sicily by king Cocalus, when he had gone thither in pursuit of Daedalus. (Herod. vii. 170; Strab. vi. pp. 273,279; Paus. vii. 4. § 5.) But the scholiast on Callimachus (Hymn. in Jov. 8) speaks of his tomb in Crete. The detail of his history is related as follows. After the death of Asterius, Minos aimed at the supremacy of Crete, and declared that it was destined to him by the gods; in proof of it, he said that any thing lie prayed for was done. Accordingly, as he was offering up a sacrifice to Poseidon, he prayed that a bull might come forth from the sea, and promised to sacrifice the animal. The bull appeared, and Minos became king of Crete. Others say that Minos disputed the government with his brother, Sarpedon, and conquered. (Herod. i. 173.) But Minos, who admired the beauty of the bull, did not sacrifice him, and substituted another in his place. Poseidon therefore rendered the bull furious, and made Pasiphaë conceive a love for the animal. Pasiphaë concealed herself in an artificial cow made by Daedalus, and thus she became by the bull the mother of the Minotaurus, a monster which had the body of a man, but the head of a bull. Minos shut the monster up in the labyrinth. (Apollod. iii. 1. § 3, &c.; comp. DAEDALUS.) Minos is further said to have divided Crete into three parts, each of which contained a capital, and to have ruled nine years. (Hom. Od. xix. 178; Strab. x. pp. 476, 479.) The Cretans traced their legal and political institutions to Minos, and he is said to have been instructed in the art of law-giving by Zeus himself; and the Spartan, Lycurgus, was believed to have taken the legislation of Minos as his model. (Paus. iii. 4. § 2; comp. Plat. Min. p. 319, b.; Plut. De ser. Num. Vind. 4; Val. Max. i. 2. § 1; Athen. xiii. p. 601.) In his time Crete was a powerful maritime state; and Minos not only checked the piratical pursuits of his contemporaries, but made himself master of the Greek islands of the Aegean. (Thuc. i. 4; Strab. i. p. 48; Diod. l. c.) The most ancient legends describe Minos as a just and wise law-giver, whereas the later accounts represent him as an unjust and cruel tyrant. (Philostr. Vit. Apoll. iii. 25; Catull. Epithal. Pel. 75; Eustath. ad Hom. p. 1699.) In order to avenge the wrong done to his son Androgeus [See ANDROGEUS] at Athens, he made war against the Athenians and Megarians. He subdued Megara, and compelled the Athenians, either every year or every nine years, to send him as a tribute seven youths and seven maidens, who were devoured in the labyrinth by the Minotaurus. (Apollod. iii. 15. § 8; Paus. i. 27. § 9, 44. § 5; Plut. Thes. 15; Diod. iv. 61; Ov. Met. vii. 456, &c.; comp. THESEUS.)