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[8]

But Minos is said to have used as seaport Amnisus, where is the temple of Eileithuia.1 In earlier times Cnossus was called Caeratus, bearing the same name as the river which flows past it. According to history, Minos was an excellent law-giver, and also the first to gain the mastery of the sea;2 and he divided the island into three parts and founded a city in each part, Cnossus in the . . .3 And it, too,4 lies to the north. As Ephorus states, Minos was an emulator of a certain Rhadamanthys of early times, a man most just and bearing the same name as Minos's brother, who is reputed to have been the first to civilize the island by establishing laws and by uniting cities under one city as metropolis5 and by setting up constitutions, alleging that he brought from Zeus the several decrees which he promulgated. So, in imitation of Rhadamanthys, Minos would go up every nine years,6 as it appears, to the cave of Zeus, tarry there, and come back with commandments drawn up in writing, which he alleged were ordinances of Zeus; and it was for this reason that the poet says,“there Minos reigned as king, who held converse with great Zeus every ninth year.
78 Such is the statement of Ephorus; but again the early writers have given a different account of Minos, which is contrary to that of Ephorus, saying that he was tyrannical, harsh, and an exactor of tribute, representing in tragedy the story of the Minotaur and the Labyrinth, and the adventures of Theseus and Daedalus.

1 The goddess of child-birth.

2 So Diod. Sic. lc, but see Hdt. 3.122.

3 The thought, if not the actual Greek words, of the passage here omitted from the Greek MSS. can be supplied from Diod. Sic. 5.78, who, like Strabo, depends much upon Ephorus for historical material: "(Cnossus in the) part of the island which inclines towards Asia, Phaestus on the sea, turned towards the south, and Cydonia in the region which lies towards the west, opposite the Peloponnesus".

4 Cydonia, as well as Cnossus.

5 See 10. 4. 14.

6 We should say "every eight years," or "every ninth year."

7 Hom. Od. 19.178

8 Five different interpretations of this passage have been set forth, dependent on the meaning and syntax of ἐννέωρος: that Minos (1) reigned as king for nine years, (2) was nine years old when he became king, (3) for nine years held converse with Zeus, (4) every nine years held converse with Zeus, and (5) reigned as king when he had come to mature age. Frazer (Paus. 3.2.4 adopts the first. Butcher and Lang, and A. T. Murray, adopt the second. Heracleides of Pontus On the Cretan Constitutions 3 seems to have adopted the third, saying that Minos spent nine years formulating his laws. But Plat. Minos 319c and Plat. Laws 624 says that Minos visited the cave of his father "every ninth year" (δι᾽ ἐνάτου ἔτους); and Strabo (as 16. 2. 38 shows) expressly follows Plato. Hence the above rendering of the Homeric passage. Apart from the above interpretations, Eustathius (note on Odyssey 10.19, on a different passage) suggests that ἐννέωρος might pertain to "nine seasons, that is, two years and one month" (the "one month," however, instead of "one season," seems incongruous). This suggests that the present passage might mean that Minos held converse with Zeus during a period of one season every other year.

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