Idomeneus - Encyclopedia




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IDOMENEUS, in Greek legend, son of Deucalion, grandson of Minos and Pasiphae, and king of Crete. As a descendant of Zeus and famous for his beauty, he was one of the suitors of Helen; hence, after her abduction by Paris, he took part in the Trojan War, in which he distinguished himself by his bravery. He is mentioned as a special favourite of Agamemnon (Iliad, iv. 257). According to Homer (Odyssey, iii. 191), he returned home safely with all his countrymen who had survived the war, but later legend connects him with an incident similar to that of Jephtha's daughter. Having been overtaken by a violent storm, to ensure his safety he vowed to sacrifice to Poseidon the first living thing that met him when he landed on his native shore. This proved to be his son, whom he slew in accordance with his vow; whereupon a plague broke out in the island, and Idomeneus was driven out. He fled to the district of Sallentum in Calabria, and subsequently to Colophon in Asia Minor, where he settled near the temple of the Clarian Apollo and was buried on Mount Cercaphus (Virgil, Aeneid, iii. 121, 400, 531, and Servius on those passages). But the Cretans showed his grave at Cnossus, where he was worshipped as a hero with Meriones (Diod. Sic. v. 79)

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