94. Minos attacks Athens

Once upon a time, Androgeus, the son of King Minos of Crete, had gone to participate in the Panathenean games arranged by King Aegeus of Athens. Androgeus emerged as the victor of the games. Then Aegeus sent Androgeus to fight the Marathonian bull, who killed Androgeus. Meanwhile, Minos was sacrificing to the Charities on the Paros island, when he heard the sorrowful news. To avenge his son’s death, Minos declared war on Athens.

Minos gathered allies by requests, promises and threats. Then Minos attacked Megara, ruled by King Nisos, who was the brother of Aegeus. Nisos had a magical purple lock at the center of his snowy hair and due to this he always remained victorious. Skylla, the daughter of Nisos, fell in love with Minos, who was unaware of her love. To show her love for Minos, Skylla treacherously snipped off the magic purple lock from her father’s head, due to which Nisos lost. Minos refused the love of Skylla. The gods changed Nisos into a hawk and Skylla into a ‘Ciris’ bird.

Thereafter, Minos attacked Athens. Both sides were equally matched and the war dragged on. Minos prayed to his father Zeus. A dreadful pestilence and famine visited on the Athenians. To overcome the terrible suffering the Athenians sacrificed four daughters of the Lacedaemonian Hyakinthos, at the tomb of the Kyklops Geraestus. Yet, the war did not end. An Oracle told that paying Minos a tribute was the only way to end the war. As a tribute, Minos demanded the Athenians to send him every year, unarmed seven youths and seven maidens. Athens submitted to the demands of Minos and the war ended.

Minos made the fourteen persons sent as tribute, enter the Labyrinth, where Minotaur, the son of Pasiphae and the bull sent by Poseidon, devoured them.

Later, in the third tribute, the hero Theseus came as one of the fourteen victims. Theseus killed the Minotaur, and the yearly tribute giving ended.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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