Cretan Myths


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Idomeneus or Idomeneo, son of Deucalion and grandson of king Minos, was a king of Crete who took part with his friend and associate Meriones in the Trojan War, leading more than 80 ships with Cretan warriors from Knossos, Gortys, Lyktos, Miletus, Lykastos, Rhytion and Phaestus. The 80 ships are relatively few, depending on the number of Cretan cities, but the era of the Minoan naval superpower had already passed. Other powerful states had been developed, such as Mycenae of Agamemnon, which was thus recognized as the leader of the Trojan War.

The Trojan War and the participation of Idomeneus in this can be regarded as the last act of the Minoan state, which took place 100 years after Minos reign, according to Herodotus. During the ten years of the war, King Idomeneus fighted as a hero and when the war ended, he returned with his army to Crete without facing troubles. During these ten years Crete faced major troubles, civil wars and family fights, however when he turned he solved all of them. When Idomeneus died, he was buried at Knossos with his partner Meriones, and his grave was a popular sightseeing even in the recent historical times.

However, according to Virgil, the nostos (return) of Idomeneus was anything but easy because the ship was endangered by a huge storm, Then Idomeneus begged Poseidon, the god of the sea, to calm the sea and when he would arrive in Crete he would sacrifice the first man he would see. Indeed, the sea calmed and Idomeneus arrived in Crete, but the first man he saw was his son. He avoided to sacrifice him and caused the anger of the gods who spread plague. The Cretans finally decided to exile their king. According to another option, he performed the sacrifice of his son and then the angry gods caused pestilence, until Idomeneo was exiled by the Cretans.

"All Cretans are liars"

There is an ancient proverb that tells that all Cretans are liars, which is associated with Idomeneas. According to mythology, once Thetis and Medea tried to contest a beauty award and set Idomeneus as a judge. The king of the Cretans then announced Thetis as the winner, causing the explosion of Medea, saying that "all Cretans are liars" and cursed the generation of Idomeneus to never tell the truth. The same phrase is mentioned in the paradox of Epimenides, but also by the Apostle Paul.

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