previous next

1. Having now run over the family of Inachus and described them from Belus down to the Heraclids, we have next to speak of the house of Agenor. For as I have said,1 Libya had by Poseidon two sons, Belus and Agenor. Now Belus reigned over the Egyptians and begat the aforesaid sons; but Agenor went to Phoenicia, married Telephassa, and begat a daughter Europa and three sons, Cadmus, Phoenix, and Cilix.2 But some say that Europa was a daughter not of Agenor but of Phoenix.3 Zeus loved her, and turning himself into a tame bull, he mounted her on his back and conveyed her through the sea to Crete.4 There Zeus bedded with her, and she bore Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys;5 but according to Homer, Sarpedon was a son of Zeus by Laodamia, daughter of Bellerophon.6 On the disappearance of Europa her father Agenor sent out his sons in search of her, telling them not to return until they had found Europa. With them her mother, Telephassa, and Thasus, son of Poseidon, or according to Pherecydes, of Cilix,7 went forth in search of her. But when, after diligent search, they could not find Europa, they gave up the thought of returning home, and took up their abode in divers places; Phoenix settled in Phoenicia; Cilix settled near Phoenicia, and all the country subject to himself near the river Pyramus he called Cilicia; and Cadmus and Telephassa took up their abode in Thrace and in like manner Thasus founded a city Thasus in an island off Thrace and dwelt there.8 [2]

Now Asterius, prince of the Cretans, married Europa and brought up her children.9 But when they were grown up, they quarrelled with each other; for they loved a boy called Miletus, son of Apollo by Aria, daughter of Cleochus.10 As the boy was more friendly to Sarpedon, Minos went to war and had the better of it, and the others fled. Miletus landed in Caria and there founded a city which he called Miletus after himself; and Sarpedon allied himself with Cilix, who was at war with the Lycians, and having stipulated for a share of the country, he became king of Lycia.11 And Zeus granted him to live for three generations. But some say that they loved Atymnius, the son of Zeus and Cassiepea, and that it was about him that they quarrelled. Rhadamanthys legislated for the islanders12 but afterwards he fled to Boeotia and married Alcmena13; and since his departure from the world he acts as judge in Hades along with Minos. Minos, residing in Crete, passed laws, and married Pasiphae, daughter of the Sun14 and Perseis; but Asclepiades says that his wife was Crete, daughter of Asterius. He begat sons, to wit, Catreus,15 Deucalion, Glaucus, and Androgeus: and daughters, to wit, Acalle, Xenodice, Ariadne, Phaedra; and by a nymph Paria he had Eurymedon, Nephalion, Chryses, and Philolaus; and by Dexithea he had Euxanthius. [3]

Asterius dying childless, Minos wished to reign over Crete, but his claim was opposed. So he alleged that he had received the kingdom from the gods, and in proof of it he said that whatever he prayed for would be done. And in sacrificing to Poseidon he prayed that a bull might appear from the depths, promising to sacrifice it when it appeared. Poseidon did send him up a fine bull, and Minos obtained the kingdom, but he sent the bull to the herds and sacrificed another.16 [ Being the first to obtain the dominion of the sea, he extended his rule over almost all the islands. ]17 [4] But angry at him for not sacrificing the bull, Poseidon made the animal savage, and contrived that Pasiphae should conceive a passion for it.18 In her love for the bull she found an accomplice in Daedalus, an architect, who had been banished from Athens for murder.19 He constructed a wooden cow on wheels, took it, hollowed it out in the inside, sewed it up in the hide of a cow which he had skinned, and set it in the meadow in which the bull used to graze. Then he introduced Pasiphae into it; and the bull came and coupled with it, as if it were a real cow. And she gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur. He had the face of a bull, but the rest of him was human; and Minos, in compliance with certain oracles, shut him up and guarded him in the Labyrinth. Now the Labyrinth which Daedalus constructed was a chamber “ that with its tangled windings perplexed the outward way. ”20 The story of the Minotaur, and Androgeus, and Phaedra, and Ariadne, I will tell hereafter in my account of Theseus.21

1 See above, Apollod. 2.1.4.

2 The ancients were not agreed as to the genealogies of these mythical ancestors of the Phoenicians, Cilicians, and Thebans. See the Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. ii.178, iii.1186. Among the authorities whose divergent views are reported in these passages by the Scholiast are Hesiod, Pherecydes, Asclepiades, and Antimachus. Moschus ii.40, 42 agrees with Apollodorus that the mother of Europa was Telephassa, but differs from him as to her father (see below). According to Hyginus, Fab. 6, 178, the mother who bore Cadmus and Europa to Agenor was not Telephassa but Argiope. According to Euripides, Agenor had three sons, Cilix, Phoenix, and Thasus. See Scholiast on Eur. Ph. 6. Pausanias agrees with regard to Thasus, saying that the natives of Thasos were Phoenicians by descent and traced their origin to this Thasus, son of Agenor (Paus. 5.25.12). In saying this, Pausanias followed Herodotus, who tells us that the Phoenician colonists of Thasos discovered wonderful gold mines there, which the historian had visited (Hdt. 6.46ff.), and that they had founded a sanctuary of Herakles in the island (Hdt. 2.44). Herodotus also (Hdt. 7.91) represents Cilix as a son of the Phoenician Agenor, and he tells us (Hdt. 4.147) that Cadmus, son of Agenor, left a Phoenician colony in the island of Thera. Diodorus Siculus reports (Diod. 5.59.2ff.) that Cadmus, son of Agenor, planted a Phoenician colony in Rhodes, and that the descendants of the colonists continued to hold the hereditary priesthood of Poseidon, whose worship had been instituted by Cadmus. He mentions also that in the sanctuary of Athena at Lindus, in Rhodes, there was a tripod of ancient style bearing a Phoenician inscription. The statement has been confirmed in recent years by the discovery of the official record of the temple of Lindian Athena in Rhodes. For in this record, engraved on a marble slab, there occurs the following entry: “Cadmus (dedicated) a bronze tripod engraved with Phoenician letters, as Polyzalus relates in the fourth book of the histories.” See Chr. Blinkenberg, La Chronique du temple Lindien (Copenhagen, 1912), p. 324. However, from such legends all that we can safely infer is that the Greeks traced a blood relationship between the Phoenicians and Cilicians, and recognised a Phoenician element in some of the Greek islands and parts of the mainland. If Europa was, as seems possible, a personification of the moon in the shape of a cow (see The Dying God, p. 88), we might perhaps interpret the quest of the sons of Agenor for their lost sister as a mythical description of Phoenician mariners steering westward towards the moon which they saw with her silver horns setting in the sea.

3 Europa was a daughter of Phoenix, according to Hom. Il. 14.321ff.); Bacch. 16.29ff. p. 376, ed. Jebb, and Moschus ii.7. So, too, the Scholiast on Hom. Il. xii.292 calls Europa a daughter of Phoenix. The Scholiast on Plat. Tim. 24e speaks of Europa as a daughter of Agenor, or of Phoenix, or of Tityus. Some said that Cadmus also was a son, not of Agenor, but of Phoenix (Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.1186).

4 Compare Moschus ii.77ff.; Scholiast on Hom. Il. xii.292; Diod. 5.78.1; Lucian, Dial. Marin. xv.; id. De dea Syria 4; Ov. Met. 2.836ff.; Ovid, Fasti v.603ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 178; Scriptores rerum mythicarum Latini, ed. Bode, i. pp. 47, 100 (First Vatican Mythographer 148; Second Vatican Mythographer 76). The connexion which the myth of Zeus and Europa indicates between Phoenicia and Crete receives a certain confirmation from the worship at Gaza of a god called Marnas, who was popularly identified with the Cretan Zeus. His name was thought to be derived from a Cretan word marna, meaning “maiden”; so that, as Mr. G. F. Hill has pointed out, marnas might signify “young man.” The city is also said to have been called Minoa, after Minos. See Stephanus Byzantius, s.v. Γάζα. The worship of Marnas, “the Cretan Zeus,” persisted at Gaza till 402 A.D., when it was finally suppressed and his sanctuary, the Marneion, destroyed. See Mark the Deacon's Life of Porphyry, Bishop of Gaza, 64-71, pp. 73-82, G. F. Hill's translation (Oxford, 1913). From this work (ch. 19, p. 24) we learn that Marnas was regarded as the lord of rain, and that prayer and sacrifice were offered to him in time of drought. As to the god and his relation to Crete, see G. F. Hill's introduction to his translation, pp. xxxii.-xxxviii.

5 Compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. xii.292; Hyginus, Fab. 178.

6 Hom. Il. 2.198ff.

7 According to some writers, Thasus was a son of Agenor. See Frazer on Apollod. 3.1.1.

8 Apollodorus probably meant to say that Thasus colonized the island of Thasos. The text may be corrupt. See Critical Note. For the traces of the Phoenicians in Thasos, Apollod. 3.1.1 note.

9 Compare Scholiast on Hom. Il. 12.292; Diod. 4.60.3 (who calls the king Asterius). On the place of Asterion or Asterius in Cretan mythology, see A. B. Cook, Zeus, i.543ff.

10 With the following legend of the foundation of Miletus compare Ant. Lib. 30; Paus. 7.2.5; Scholiast on Ap. Rhod., Argon. i.186.

11 Compare Hdt. 1.173; Diod. 5.79.3; Strab. 12.8.5; Paus. 7.3.7. Sarpedon was worshipped as a hero in Lycia. See Dittenberger, Orientis Graeci Inscriptiones Selectae 552 vol. ii. p. 231.

12 Compare Diod. 5.79.1ff.

13 See above, Apollod. 2.4.11 note.

14 Daughter of the Sun; compare Ap. Rhod., Argon. iii.999; Paus. 3.26.1, Paus. 5.25.9; Ant. Lib. 41; Mythographi Graeci, ed. Westermann, Appendix Narrationum, p. 379; Ov. Met. 9.736. Pausanias interpreted Pasiphae as the moon (Paus. 3.26.1), and this interpretation has been adopted by some modern scholars. The Cretan traditions concerning the marriage of Minos and Pasiphae seem to point to a ritual marriage performed every eight years at Cnossus by the king and queen as representatives respectively of the Sun and Moon. See The Dying God, pp. 70ff.; A. B. Cook, Zeus, i.521ff. (who holds that Europa was originally a Cretan Earth-goddess responsible for the vegetation of the year).

15 Compare Paus. 8.53.4.

16 Compare Diod. 4.77.2; Tzetzes, Chiliades i.479ff. (who seems to follow Apollodorus); Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Theb. v.431, according to whom the bull was sent, in answer to Minos's prayer, not by Poseidon but by Jupiter (Zeus).

17 Compare Hdt. 1.171; Thuc. 1.4 and Thuc. 1.8.

18 Here Apollodorus seems to be following Euripides, who in a fragment of his drama, The Cretans, introduces Pasiphae excusing herself on the ground that her passion for the bull was a form of madness inflicted on her by Poseidon as a punishment for the impiety of her husband Minos, who had broken his vow by not sacrificing the bull to the sea-god. See W. Schubart und U. von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, Griechische Dichterfragmente, ii. (Berlin, 1907), pp. 74ff.

19 See below, Apollod. 3.15.8.

20 In the Greek original these words are seemingly a quotation from a poem, probably a tragedy—perhaps Sophocles's tragedy Daedalus, of which a few fragments survive. See TGF (Nauck 2nd ed.), pp. 167ff.; The Fragments of Sophocles, ed. A. C. Pearson, vol. i. pp. 110ff. As to the Minotaur and the labyrinth, compare Diod. 4.77.1-5; Plut. Thes. 15ff.; Hyginus, Fab. 40; Lactantius Placidus on Statius, Achill. 192. As to the loves of Pasiphae and the bull, see also Scholiast on Eur. Hipp. 887; Tzetzes, Chiliades i.479ff.; Verg. Ecl. 6.45ff.; Ovid, Ars Am. i.289ff.

21 See below, Apollod. 3.15.7-9; Apollod. E.1.7-11.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (Sir James George Frazer)
hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide References (33 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (4):
  • Cross-references in notes to this page (1):
  • Cross-references in notes from this page (28):
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome, e.1.7
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.1.4
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 2.4.11
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.15.7
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.15.8
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus, Library, 3.1.1
    • Bacchylides, Dithyrambs, 17
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.171
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.173
    • Herodotus, Histories, 4.147
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.46
    • Herodotus, Histories, 7.91
    • Herodotus, Histories, 2.44
    • Homer, Iliad, 14.321
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.25.9
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 3.26.1
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 5.25.12
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.2.5
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 7.3.7
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.53.4
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.4
    • Homer, Iliad, 2.198
    • Strabo, Geography, 12.8.5
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 2.836
    • Vergil, Eclogues, 6
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 9.736
    • Thucydides, Histories, 1.8
    • Plutarch, Theseus, 15
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: