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Introduction | History
Echoes of the
Minoan ages

Mythology gives a big insight to the relationship between the Minoan civilization and the civilizations of the other Greek city-states that were rising during the end of the Minoan era. The two short myths that follow are not just stories, but also provide valuable hints to the real historical facts of the times.

The myth of Minotaur

Minos, who was the king of Knosos ,was the son of Zeus and Europe.
One of Minos's brothers, Sarpidon ,was the king of Gortys but he wanted to usurp the throne of Minos. Minos said that he was the chosen by the Gods to be king of Knosos , and to prove it, asked Poseidon (the god of the sea) to send him a bull to sacrifice. Poseidon did that, and everybody believed that Minos was right.
Minos however felt that the bull sent by Poseidon would improve his own stock, so he sacrificed another one and kept the one sent by the god.
Poseidon decided to punish Minos for this sacrilege by making his wife , Pasifae, fall in love with the bull. The offfspring of the union of Pasifae with the bull was, appropriately, a monster that ate human flesh, with a bull's head and a human body, Minotaur.
Obviously, the Minotaur, was not someone that Minos liked to have running around in his palace, scaring (and sometimes eating ) his guests. So he locked him in a labyrinth constructed by Daedalus.
In order to deal with Minotaur's weird tastes, Minos forced the Athenians, who have killed his son Androgeo, to send him fourteen young Athenians (seven male and seven female) every year to serve (as) dinner for the Minotaur.
Theseas, the son of the Athenian king, asked his father to let him be one of the fourteen to go to Crete. When they arrived , Minos daughter, Ariadne, saw Theseas and felt in love with him. So, when her father threw Theseas to the Labyrinth, she helped him kill the Minotaur, and escape.

The myth of Dedalus and Icarus

Another myth related to the one above is that of Dedalus and Icarus. Dedalus was a famous Athenian architect/engineer that Minos invited to Crete to build him a Labyrinth. When Dedalus finished, Minos jailed him in the Labyrinth. Dedalus however, build two sets of wings using wax and feathers, one for himself and one for his son Icarus, and they flew off Crete. During the flight to Athens Icarus ,happy from flying, decided to challenge the sun. He flew too high and the sun melted the wax that kept his wings together. Icarus fell in the Aegean and died. The island Icaria is named after him.