Early Crete
  Minos
  Crete in Decline


Genealogy: House of Crete







Early Crete

  Tectamus
  Europa


Genealogy: House of Crete




Tectamus
 

Tectamus was the son of Dorus, son of Hellen. Tectamus married his niece, the daughter of Cretheus, king of Iolcus in Thessaly. Tectamus became the father of Asterius.

Tectamus migrated to Crete with his family and followers, where he became the king of Crete. It was during his reign, when Europa, daughter of Agenor of Sidon, arrived on the back of a bull; the bull was actually the god Zeus. Zeus seduced Europa, and became the mother of three sons.

His son Asterius had married the foreigner princess, and brought up her sons if they were his own. Asterius succeeded his father, when the old king (Tectamus) died.

 
Related Information
Name
Tectamus, Τέκαμος.

Sources
Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Related Articles
Asterius, Europa, Zeus.



Abduction of Europa
 

In Phoenicia, Agenor ruled in the city of Sidon (sometimes it was Tyre). Agenor was the son of the sea-god Poseidon and Libya. Agenor was also brother of Belus, king of Egypt. He and his family were direct descendants of Io, daughter of the Argive river-god, Inachus. By his wife Telephassa (or Argiope), Agenor had one daughter, named Europa (Εὐρώπη), and five sons: Cadmus, Phoenix, Cilix, Thasus, and Phineus (according to Homer, Europa was the daughter of Phoenix).


The maiden Europa was playing with her companions in a meadow and having a picnic, when they encountered a beautiful bull. But the bull was none other than Zeus himself. Aphrodite had caused him to fall in love with Europa, that he had transformed himself into a bull so that the god to get close as possible to Europa. The girls were not frightened of the bull, because he was so gentle, that the girls played around the disguised god.

When the bull lay before Europa's feet, the girls decided to sit on his back. When Europa mounted on the bull back, however, the bull immediately stood up, before the other girls had a chance to climb on the bull back. The bull suddenly ran to the shore and straight out to sea. The bull hovered about above the waves, accompanied by dolphins, the sea gods, Poseidon and his son Triton. The strange procession frightened Europa as she was carried further and further from her homeland. It wasn't long before the land disappeared from the horizon.

Zeus, still in the form of the bull, reassured her that she should not be afraid of him. The bull told her that his name was Zeus, and that he was in love with her. He told the maiden that he was taking her to Crete, where she would bear him sons.


Europa bore the thunder-god, three sons: Minos, Rhadamanthys, and Sarpedon. Her son, Minos, became the powerful king of Crete, who established a strong navy and an empire in the Aegean Sea. Rhadamanthys was a famous Cretan lawgiver. Sarpedon migrated to Lycia, where he shared the kingdom with Athenian prince, named Lycus.

Agenor was distraught over his daughter's disappearance. Agenor was completely besotted with his daughter, so he ordered all his sons to find their sister, "or else don't come back." All of her brothers didn't return home. Cadmus had travelled the furthest, all the way west, to Delphi. The oracle told Cadmus, to stop looking for his sister, and find a new home for himself. His journey took him to Boeotia, where he founded the city, which he called Cadmeia, but it was later changed to Thebes.

You will find the full myth on Cadmus, in the House of Thebes.


In the above tale, I had named Europa as the daughter of Agenor. In the Cataglogues of Women, Europa was the daughter of Phoenix, and granddaughter of Agenor and Cassiopea. This makes her the sister of Phineus, the blind diviner that Jason and the Argonauts had encountered at Salmydessus, a Thracian capital of Thynia.

 
Related Information
Name
Europa, Εὐρώπη.

Eponym
Europa – Europe.

Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

The Iliad was written by Iliad.

Related Articles
Minos, Rhadamanthys, Sarpedon, Cadmus, Io, Zeus. Crete.

Genealogy: Minoan Dynasty of Crete.


The Rape of Europa
Titian
Oil on canvas, 1559-1562
Isbella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston








Minos

In Greek mythology, Minos (Μίνως) was the greatest king in Crete, with a great empire and the most formidable navy. His empire included the islands in the Aegean Sea, and a sizable territory on mainland Greece. So, of course, Minos' reign was the golden age of Crete.

The following articles explored the life and myth of Minos.

  Minos and his Brothers
  Britomartis
  Pasiphaë and the Minotaur
  Polyeidus and Glaucus
  Daedalus


Genealogy: House of Crete




Minos and his Brothers
 

Minos (Μίνως) was a son of the god Zeus and Europa, the daughter of King Agenor of Sidon. Minos was also the brother of Rhadamanthys (´Ραδάμανθυν) and Sarpedon (Σαρπηδών). His step-father was Asterius, who was king of Crete.

Zeus had brought Europa to Crete, while in the form of a beautiful bull. In Crete, he seduced Phoenician princess, and became.

Asterius had raised Minos and his brothers as they were his own sons, when he married their mother. Asterius and Europa may have had a daughter named Crete (some say that Crete was the daughter of Deucalion). The island was named after Crete.

Minos was a powerful athletic man, known for his skill in hunting. In his younger days, Minos often goes out hunting. He once fell in love with a nymph, named Britomartis, daughter of Zeus and Karme (Carme), daughter of Eubulus. But Britomartis, like her goddess Artemis, had no interested in men, as sexual partner, because she wished to remain a virgin. Since he can't have her love, Minos decided to rape the maiden.

For several days, Minos pursued the nymph, until in desperation she leaped into the sea to escape. She was saved by fishermen, who pulled her out of water, using their fishing net. Admiring her determination to preserve her virginity, Artemis awarded her companion immortality. She was frequently called Dictynna, as a goddess of hunting and fishing. See the Mother Goddesses page for more about Britomartis.

Of course, Minos' sexual preference wasn't limited to just nymphs or beautiful young women, as you will soon see.

Rhadamanthys was respected as a judge for his fair and wisdom. He was said to have establish the code of laws in Crete, which was he nicknamed as the "Lawgiver".


Tension was always high, among the three Cretan brothers. Minos and his brothers were often rivals.

One day, their rivalry ended in open hostility, because each had fallen in love with a beautiful youth, named Miletus or Atymnius. Miletus was the son of Apollo and either of Acacallis, Areia or Deione. (As Atymnius, he was the son of Zeus and Cassiopea.)

When Miletus (Atymnius) was forced to choose, he told the brothers that he preferred Sarpedon. The jealous Minos seized power, and drove Miletus and his two brothers out of Crete.

Sarpedon and his lover, fled to Asia Minor, where Miletus captured the town called Anactoria, which he renamed to Miletus (of course). Sarpedon continued east, where he and his followers conquered the Solymi tribe, and occupied their land. Sarpedon and his Cretan followers were known as the Termilae. They continued to be called Termilae, until the arrival of the Athenian Lycus had arrived with his followers. Sarpedon shared the kingdom with Lycus, and their country became known as Lycia.

Sarpedon had a son, Evander, who he had married off to Bellerophon's daughter, Deïdameia. Sarpedon then made Evander king. Evander became the father of Sarpedon, the Lycian leader who had fought and died at Troy.

It was said that Europa, wasn't Sarpedon's mother, because he was sometimes known as the son of Zeus and Laodameia, another daughter of the hero Bellerophon. According to Homer, this Sarpedon fought in the Trojan War.

Rhadamanthys headed in the opposite direction to his brother. Apollodorus says that Rhadamanthys had settled in Boeotia, where he married the widow Alcmene, mother of Heracles. He was the father of Erythrus and Gortys.

When Rhadamanthys died, he was transformed into a god in the Underworld, particularly that of the Elysium, acting as one of three judges. The other two judges were Aeacus, son of Zeus and Aegina, and the other was Rhadamanthys' own brother, Minos.

 
Related Information
Name
Minos, Μίνως.

Rhadamanthys, Rhadamanthus, ´Ραδάμανθυν.

Sarpedon, Σαρπηδών.

Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

The Iliad and Odyssey were written by Homer.

Description of Greece was written by Pausanias.

Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Related Articles
Genealogy: House of Crete.



Pasiphaë and the Minotaur
 

Minos married Pasiphaë (Πασιφάη), the daughter of the sun-god Helios and the Oceanid Perse. Minos was the father of four sons, Androgeus, Catreus, Deucalion and Glaucus, and of four daughters, Acacallis (Acalle), Xenodice, Ariadne (Ἀριάδνη) and Phaedra (Φαίδρα).

Acacallis had unfortunately become pregnant, and was banished to Libya. The father of her son was the god Apollo. Her son was named Amphithemis, but he was often called Garamas.


One day, Minos prayed to Poseidon for creature to sacrifice to the sea-god, Poseidon sent to the king, a beautiful white bull from the sea, which became known as the Cretan Bull. However, Minos found the bull so beautiful that he refused to sacrifice the bull to sea-god. Instead, Minos sacrificed a bull of poorer quality to Poseidon. Minos kept this prized bull for selective breeding with his herd of cows.

To punish Minos for his broken promise, Poseidon made Pasiphaë, Minos' wife, to fall in love with the bull. Daedalus (Δαίδαλος), Minos' inventor aided Pasephaë in fulfilling her desire to mate with the bull. Daedalus constructed a hollow, wooden cow, where he sew cow hide to the dummy. Placing the wooden cow in the meadow, Pasiphaë climbed into construction. The Cretan Bull came up to the bogus cow and mounted Pasiphaë.

From the unnatural coupling of Pasiphaë and the Cretan Bull, Pasiphaë became mother of the monster known as the Minotaur (Μινώταυρος; "Bull of Minos"). Minotaur had the body of a man but with head of a bull. Minos confined the monster Minotaur, below his palace, within a maze called the Labyrinth.

As to the Cretan Bull, Minos was embarrassed that his wife had a monstrous offspring with his prized animal, so the Minoan king gave away the bull to Heracles, when the hero came to fetch the Cretan Bull as part of 7th Labour to Eurystheus. Heracles rode on the bull's back, as the Cretan Bull swam all the across the sea, to Tiryns. Once Heracles shown the bull to Eurystheus, the hero released it.

The Cretan Bull roamed the countryside, until the beast made its way to Marathon in Attica. The Cretan Bull then came to be known as the Marathonian Bull. The bull caused lots of damage to properties and had killed farmers in Attica.

In Athens, Aegeus was holding games at the festival, called Panathenaia. Androgeus, Minos young son became a guest to Aegeus, king of Athens, took part in all contests and had won all the events. Aegeus wanted the strongest athlete to kill the Marathonian Bull, so as the winner of contests, Aegeus ordered Androgeus to kill the bull.

Androgeus was eager to prove his prowess, so he eagerly went to kill the bull, but it was the young hero who had died, when the bull gorged him to death.

Hearing of the death of his son, Minos mustered a large army and navy against Athens. Minos captured many islands as he approached Attica. Minos became the Lord of the Aegean.

In his campaign on the mainland Greece, he had captured the kingdom of Megara, ruled by Nisus. See Nisus and Scylla. From there, he moved his army and navy against Athens.

The siege in Athens, however, was long, frustrating Minos for revenge against Aegeus. So Minos prayed to his father, Zeus, the mightiest of the gods, for aid. So Zeus caused Athens to suffer from famine and the plague. The Athenians suffering from war and plagues; they asked the oracle how they might survive. The oracle informed them that only sacrifices can be made to end the war, plague and famine.

So Aegeus and the Athenians seized the daughters of Hyacinthus, who were foreigners from Sparta, and sacrificed the girls. But this was not the sacrifices that the oracle meant, neither the war nor the plague ended. So Aegeus consulted with the oracle again, and discovered what sacrifice he must make.

So Aegeus send an embassy, to surrender to whatever terms that Minos demanded. Since Minos had lost a son, Aegeus must give him seven youths and seven maidens every nine years, as tributes. These young Athenians would be confined in the Labyrinth, as food to the monster Minotaur. Aegeus had no choice but to comply with Minos' demands. This was what the oracle meant by sacrifices.

This practice of tributes only ended, when Aegeus' son, Theseus, offered himself as a sacrifice, with his real intention of killing the Minotaur.

The Labyrinth was built by Daedalus (Daidalos), the only person who knew how to escape the giant maze. Ariadne, who fell in love with Theseus, persuaded Daedalus to disclose the secret method to escape from the Labyrinth. The Minotaur was killed by the Athenian hero Theseus and he escaped the Labyrinth. (See Theseus.)

 
Related Information
Name
Minos, Μίνως.

Pasiphaë, Pasiphae, Πασιφάη.

Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Description of Greece was written by Pausanias.

Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Related Articles
Ariadne, Phaedra, Theseus, Aegeus, Heracles, Daedalus.

Cretan Bull, Minotaur.

Genealogy: House of Crete.



Nisus and Scylla
 

During Minos' campaign against Athens, the Cretan army attacked Megara, a kingdom in the Corinthian Isthmus that was ally to Athens.

At the time of the siege, Megara's king was Nisus (Νἳσος), the son of Pandion, who was formerly a king of Athens. Nisus' mother was Pylia, daughter of Pylas, king of Megara. Nisus had a daughter named Scylla (Σκύλλη).

According to the legend, Nisus have a lock of purple hair on his head. As long his hair was on his head, Nisus could not die and he would not lose his kingdom to any invaders. But the king never suspected treachery from his own daughter.

Scylla watched the besieging army from the high walls of Megara. When Scylla first saw Minos, she fell in love with her father's enemy. Scylla betrayed her father, by pulling the purple hair out of Nisus' head, which instantly killed him. With Nisus' death the city of Megara surrendered to Minos.

Minos, however, did not reward Scylla for her treachery or his victory over Megara. Minos had girl tied to the prow of his ship, by her feet, so that Scylla drowned.

 
Related Information
Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

Description of Greece was written by Pausanias.

Libation Bearers was written by Aeschylus.

Related Articles
Minos.



Polyeidus and Glaucus
 

Minos had a young son named Glaucus (Glaucos or Γλαὓκος) who fell into a large jar of honey. Minos told an Argive seer named Polyeidus (Polyidos or Πολύειδος), who was a descendant of Melampus (Melampous), to revive his son. Minos had Polyeidus entombed with Glaucus.

In the tomb, Polyeidus killed a snake, but saw a second snake bringing back the dead snake to life with the herb. Polyeidus took some of herb and revive the king's son.

Minos then ordered Polyeidus to teach Glaucus everything about the art of divination; otherwise he could not leave the island. So he taught the king's son everything he knew.

When Minos finally allowed the seer to leave, Polyeidus told the boy that he had one last lesson to teach him. Polyeidus told the boy to spit into his mouth. Once Glaucus spat into the seer's mouth, the boy forgot everything that Polyeidus had taught him.

While Polyeidus was in Lycia, it was he who gave Bellerophon his counsel on how to tame the winged horse Pegasus.

 
Related Information
Name
Glaucus, Glaucos, Glaukos, Γλαὓκος.

Polyeidus, Polyidus, Polyidos, Πολύειδος.

Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Fabulae was written by Hyginus.

Related Articles
Minos, Pasiphaü, Melampus, Bellerophon.

Pegasus.



Δαίδαλος
Daedalus
 

Talus

Daedalus (Daidalos or Δαίδαλος) was originally an Athenian master craftsman and inventor. Daedalus was the son of Eupalamus and the great grandson of King Erechtheus of Athens. Daedalus was also brother of a sister, named Perdix.

Daedalus was exiled from Athens when he killed his own nephew, Talus, the son of Perdix. Talus became a pupil or an apprentice to Daedalus, when he was twelve. Talus was so gifted that he invented the saw, from observing the backbone of a fish, and a compass to draw circle. Jealous of his nephew's talent and fearing that he would soon surpass him, Daedalus flung his nephew from the top of the Acropolis.

According to the poet Ovid, Talus was turned into a low-flying bird, because it feared to fly too high. Daedalus was caught trying to hide his nephew's body, by burying it. Depending on the sources, he either fled or was banished from Athens, after he was found guilty in a trial at Areopagus.


Daedalus and Icarus

Daedalus went to Crete and served Minos as the king's architect and craftsman.

When Pasiphaë fell in love with Cretan Bull, it was Daedalus who helped her to copulate with bull, where she became mother of the monster Minotaur.

It was Daedalus, who had built the Labyrinth to confine the Minotaur. Only Daedalus knew how to escape the Labyrinth. The inventor gave this secret to Minos' daughter, Ariadne, who was in love with the young Athenian hero, Theseus (see Theseus).

When Minos realised that Daedalus was responsible for Theseus' escape from the Labyrinth, Minos had the craftsman and his son named Icarus imprisoned in the Labyrinth.

To escape from the Labyrinth, Daedalus made a couple sets of wings for himself and Icarus, which was made of feathers and wax. Before flying out of their complex prison, Daedalus warned his son not to fly too high. Together, they flew away from the Labyrinth.

Icarus, however, flew too high, forgetting his father's ominous warning, because he had found flying, exhilarating. The sun melted his waxed feathers; Icarus died when he plummeted to the earth. While Heracles was a slave to Queen Omphale of Lydia, the hero discovered Icarus' body on an island of Doliche, which he promptly buried. Heracles named the island, Icaria. Daedalus was very grateful to Heracles, and erected a statue to Heracles at Pisa. Heracles, however, mistaken the statue for a real person, and thought it was an enemy, because it was very dark that night. So Heracles hurled a stone and damaged his own statue.

A less interesting version by the historian Diodorus Siculus, say that Daedalus had fled in a ship, taking his son Icarus. When they landed on the island, Icarus was reckless in disembarking, fell in the water and drowned. The islanders named their island, Icaria, after Icarus.

Another variation to this myth can be found in Pausanias' Description of Greece. Daedalus escaped with his son on a small ship, being chased by Minoan fleet. Pausanias says that Daedalus had invented the sails, which allow his vessel to outstrip Minos' ships that were rowed by oars. Icarus' inexperience steering had upset the ship. Heracles came upon and recognised Icarus on the beach, so the hero buried the body on the island that was now named Icaria.

Whichever version you may have read, Daedalus eventually arrived in Sicily.


Death of Minos

Minos was still furious at Daedalus' escape. Minos placed a large reward to find the inventor, and for years send his warships out searching for the fugitive. Finally he had pinpointed Daedalus' location in Sicily. Minos brought a sizeable naval force to capture Daedalus.

Cocalus, the king of the Sicani, befriended Daedalus, who helped him build several great citadels – Megaris, Acragas and Selinus.

Minos had brought a spiral sea-shell and offered a large reward for anyone who could draw a thread through it. Cocalus brought shell to Daedalus. Attaching a thread to an ant, so the ant can pull the thread through one end of the shell to the other. Cocalus then display his success.

Minos realised that Cocalus was hiding Daedalus. Minos demanded that Cocalus should hand over the inventor or face his mighty army. Cocalus promised to give Daedalus to the Cretan king, and offered his home in hospitality.

While Minos was taking a bath, Cocalus' daughters poured boiling water over his head. Cocalus informed the Cretan general, that their king had accidentally slipped and fallen into the bath, filled with hot water. Minos was buried in Sicily.

When Minos died, Minos became an attendant of the Themis, goddess of justice, along with his brother Rhadamanthys and with Aeacus, the son of Zeus and Aegina. They were three judges in the Underworld, presiding over the souls of the dead.

 
Related Information
Name
Daedalus, Daidalos, Δαίδαλος.

Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Metamorphoses was written by Ovid.

Description of Greece was written by Pausanias.

Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Related Articles
Minos, Pasiphaë, Theseus.

Cretan Bull, Minotaur.








Crete in Decline

After the death of Minos, his sons shared the islands, but it was a dynasty in decline.


  Catreus     
  Idomeneus     


Genealogy: House of Crete




Catreus
 

Crete was divided between Minos two sons, Catreus (Κατρεύς) and Deucalion (Δευκαλίων).

Deucalion was the father of Idomeneus and a daughter, named Crete. Crete was probably the eponym of the island; though, some says that Crete was the daughter of Europa and Asterius. Deucalion also had illegitimate son named Molus. According to the Odyssey, Deucalion had another son named Aethon. When Odysseus was disguised as a beggar in his palace, he had introduced himself to Penelope as Aethon, who met her husband before the war.

Catreus had only one son, named Althaemenes, and three daughters, Apemosyne, Clymene and Aërope.

Catreus had either ruled Crete alone, or the kingdom was divided between him and his brother, Deucalion. Catreus had heard from the oracle that he would die at the hand of one of his children. Catreus tried to keep this a secret, but Althaemenes had overheard. Fearing that he would be the one to murder his father, Althaemenes fled to the island Rhodes, taking his sister Apemosyne with him. Althaemenes founded the city in Rhodes, which he called Cretinia.

While brother and sister were living in Rhodes, Hermes had raped Apemosyne so that she fell pregnant. When Althaemenes saw this, he did not believe her about who had raped her. Althaemenes killed his sister, by kicking Apemosyne to death.


Catreus ordered Nauplius to kill his other two daughters; instead Nauplius married Clymene, who became the mother of Palamedes and Oiax or Oeax.

Nauplius sold the other sister, Aerope, to Atreus, the king of Mycenae. Atreus had a brother, named Thyestes, his archenemy and rival. Her adultery with Thyestes led the two brothers to conflict and began a cycle of violent death between Atreus and Thyestes, her children and grandchildren. See House of Atreus.

When Theseus became a widow, Catreus agreed to the hero's marriage to his younger sister, Phaedra. This marriage however ended in tragedy, when Phaedra fell in love with her stepson, Hippolytus, the son of the Amazon Antiope. (Read Hippolytus in the Theseus' page, about Phaedra and Hipploytus.)


When Catreus reach an old age and knew that he was dying. Catreus went to Rhodes, in the hope that his son Althaemenes, so that he would succeed him in Crete.

When the Cretans landed on the island, Althaemenes thought they were pirates, so he led his armed warriors against the intruders. Althaemenes killed his own father with a javelin. When Althaemenes found out the truth that he had killed his own father, Althaemenes prayed for his own death. The gods answered his prayer, by causing the earth to swallow the sorrowful Althaemenes.

With the death of Catreus and his son, Althaemenes, Catreus' nephew, Idomeneus became king of Crete.

 
Related Information
Sources
Library was written by Apollodorus.

Related Articles
Minos, Pasiphaë, Idomeneus.



Idomeneus
 

Idomeneus (Ἰδομενεές) was a son of Deucalion. He was also the brother of Crete and half-brother of Molus. Idomeneus was the nephew of Catreus. Idomeneus had married Meda, and became the father of Cleisithyra and Idamante.

Idomeneus was a former suitor of Helen, and brought 80 ships to Troy. Meriones, son of Molus, was his lieutenant and his second-in-command, whom Idomeneus often fought side-by-side. Though he was one of oldest leaders, next to Nestor, he distinguished himself in the war. Idomeneus was one of the leaders who had volunteered to fight Hector in single combat. Idomeneus was one of the leaders who hid in the Wooden Horse.

Idomeneus was said to have returned safely to Crete, and when he died he was buried alongside with Meriones. Idomeneus had promised the gods that if he returned safely to Crete, he would sacrifice the first person who he met. The tragedy of his vow was that first person was his own son, Idamante. The rash king had no choice but to kill his unfortunate son.

But according to Apollodorus, Idomeneus safely returned home after the war, but in his long absence, Meda had taken a lover, named Leucus, at the instigation of Nauplius. Leucus managed to gain support from ten cities in Crete, so that he was able to deprive Idomeneus of his kingdom. Meda realised her mistake in taking a lover, she fled to the temple, seeking refuge with her daughter, but Leucus followed and murdered Medea and her daughter Cleisithyra.

Leucas then drove Idomeneus out of Crete, but Apollodorus doesn't state where he was exiled to. Vergil says that Idomeneus had migrated with his followers to Calabria, in southern Italy.

According to the Odyssey, Idomeneus had another brother, named Aethon. The Ithacan hero, Odysseus had used this name, when he was disguised as a beggar. Odysseus fabricated a story for his wife of how he met her husband.

 
Related Information
Name
Idomenus, Ἰδομενεές.

Sources
The Iliad and the Odyssey were written by Homer.

Library was written by Apollodorus.

The Aeneid was written by Vergil.

Fall of Troy was written by Quintus Smyrnaeus.

Library of History was written by Diodorus Siculus.

Related Articles
Deucalion, Catreus, Helen, Nestor, Hector.

Trojan War.









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