The Ancient Library

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On this page: Minerva – Minerval – Minos – Minotaurus – Minucius Felix



Minerva. The Italian goddess of intelli­gence, meditation, and inventiveness, queen of all accomplishments and arts, especially of spinning and weaving, as practised by women. She was also the patron-goddess of fullers, dyers, cobblers, carpenters, musi­cians, sculptors, painters, physicians, actors, poets, schoolmasters, and especially of schoolchildren. Her oldest and most im­portant sanctuaries were at Rome on the hills of the town; on the Capitol, where she occupied the chamber on the right in the great temple common to her with Jupiter and Juno; on the Aventine, where the official meeting place of poets and actors was situated, and on the-Cselian. Her chief festival was the Quinqudtrus (q.v.). In the course of time the Greek conception gained more ground; Minerva was identified with Pallas Athene. This certainly happened with regard to Athene considered as the bestower of victory and booty, when Pompey erected a temple to her from the booty won in his Eastern cam­paigns. And Augustus must have regarded her as Athene the Counsellor when he added to his Curia lulia a vestibule dedicated to Minerva. The Roman Minerva was repre­sented in art in the same manner as the Greek goddess. (See athene.)

MInerval. The school fee among the Romans. (Sec quinqoatrus.)

Minos. A mythical king of Crete, the centre of the oldest legends of that island. He is the sou of Zeus and of Europa ; in Homer, brother of Rhadamanthys, father of Deucalion and Ariadne, and grandfather of Idomeneus. Residing at Gnossus as the " familiar friend of Zeus," he had a " nine-yearly" rule over the flourishing island [Oct. xix 179], an expression which later generations explained as signifying periods of nine years; at the end of which he went into a cave sacred to Zeus, in order to hold converse with his father, and to receive the laws for his island. Just as he was thought to be the framer of the famous older Cretan constitution, so he was also considered a founder of the naval supre­macy of Crete before the times of Troy: Hesiod calls him the " mightiest king of all mortals," who rules with the sceptre of Zeus over most of the neighbouring peoples. Later legend gives him another brother, Sarpedon, and a number of children (among others Androgeos, Glaucus, Catreus, and Phaedra) by his wife Pasiphae, a daughter of Helios and Perseis. When after the death of Asterlon, the husband of Europa,

he has driven away his brothers in conse­quence of a quarrel, he seizes the kingship of Crete, in which he is supported by POseidon, who, on his prayer that he should i send him a bull for sacrifice, causes a won­derfully beautiful snow-white bull to rise from the sea. But as he, desiring to keep it for his own herd, sacrifices another, the god to punish him inspires his wife Pasiphae (q:v.) with love for the bull. Homer [Od. xi 322] calls Minos the " meditator of evil"; in later times he was represented as a hard-hearted and cruel tyrant, especi­ally on the Attic stage, because of the part he played in Attic legends. On account of the murder of his son Androgeos (q.v.) at Athens, he undertook an expedition of revenge against Attica, captured Megara (see Nisus), and compelled the Athenians to send him once in every nine years seven boys and seven girls to Crete,'to be devoured by the Minotaur (q.v. • see also theseus). Tradition made him die in Sicily, whither he had pursued Daedalus (q.v.) on his flight, and where king Cocalus or his daughters stifled him in a hot bath. His Cretan followers interred him near Agrigentum, where his grave was shown. In Homer [Od. xi 568] Odysseus sees him in Hades with a golden sceptre in his hand, judging the shades ; he does not appear in the legends as judge of the dead by the side of jEacus and Rhadamanthys till later [Plato, Apol. 41 a, Gorg. 523 e].

Minotaurus (i.e. Bull of Minos'). Son of Pasiphae (q.v.) and a bull ; a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. Minos concealed it in the labyrinth, built near Gnossus by Daedalus, and gave him as food the criminals, and the youths and maidens sent from Athens ae a tribute, till Theseus by the help of Ariadne penetrated into the labyrinth and killed the Minotaur. It has been pointed out that he is the same as the Phoenician Baal Moloch, also repre­sented with a bull's head and supplied with human sacrifices. This worship was put a stop to by Greek civilization, which may be considered with all the more reason to be represented by Theseus, as in olden days the Attic coast was perhaps actually occupied from time to time by Cretan or Phoenician settlers, who sent human sacri­fices to Crete as their religious centre.

Minuclus Felix (Quintus). The first Latin Christian author, a man of excellent educa­tion, and a distinguished lawyer at Rome. After becoming a Christian at an advanced age, he wrote in the second half of tha

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