Who is King Minos?

Minos, King of Crete, becomes thus the earliest Greek whose life and rank and personality we can even vaguely reconstruct. His palace at Knossus has been unearthed, and shows that he was no petty city-king, but that his sway extended over the whole broad island of "hundred-citied Crete," as later poets called it. He was probably high-priest as well as king, ruling his people chiefly through their religion. They worshipped a female deity, the "Great Mother," the productive force of Nature, and they symbolized this Mother by a sort of double axe which we find stamped upon their ornaments and buildings. Theirs was a cruel worship, involving public sacrifices of human beings made to savage bulls before a crowd of people; or perhaps the sacrifice was to a bull-headed idol such as the Moloch of the Phoenicians. The later Greeks who had been tributary to Crete long remembered these sacrifices; and we come upon traditions of the "Minotaur" or Minos bull in many places.

Later legend said of Minos that he was the first man to establish himself as king of Crete, and that he gave the Cretans their earliest code of laws. He also established a navy and with it conquered other islands, building up an Empire of the Sea. He was finally slain in Sicily while warring there.

Another name connected by tradition with Minos is that of Daedalus, the first great architect. At the command of the king, Daedalus built the wonderful palace whose remains we know. It was called the Labyrinth, and sheltered not only the royal court, but also the monster, the Minotaur, who could never find a way out from among its thousand winding passages. Daedalus was also the earliest sculptor and inventor. Legend said that in an effort to escape from the tyranny of Minos he built himself a pair of wings and flew on them from Crete to Sicily. It was in pursuit of him that Minos invaded Sicily. With Daedalus in his aerial flight went his young son Icarus, on a second set of wings; but Icarus, in his delight, flew too high and the sun melted the wax with which his wings were fastened on, so that he fell into the sea and was drowned. This is the earliest tale we have of man's ages of endeavor to conquer the air.

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Read about Who is King Minos? in the The Story of the Greatest Nations and the Worlds Famous Events Vol 1

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