Sacrificial victims of Minotaur

In Greek mythology, the people of Athens were at one point compelled by King Minos of Crete to choose 14 young noble citizens (seven young men and seven maidens) to be offered as sacrificial victims to the half-human, half-taurine monster Minotaur to be killed in retribution for the death of Minos' son Androgeos.


The victims were drawn by lots, were required to go unarmed, and would end up either being consumed by the Minotaur or getting lost and perishing in the Labyrinth, the maze-like structure where the Minotaur was kept. The offerings were to take place every one, seven or nine years and lasted until Theseus volunteered to join the third group of the would-be victims, killed the monster, and led his companions safely out of the Labyrinth.[1][2][3][4]

Plutarch in his Life of Theseus cites a rationalized version of this myth, referring to Philochorus who in his turn claimed to be following a local Cretan tradition. According to it, the young people were not actually killed but given as prizes to winners of the funeral games of Androgeos. The Labyrinth was an ordinary dungeon where they were temporarily kept. The winner who received them as a prize was Taurus, the most powerful general of Minos; he mistreated the young people, thus gaining the reputation of a monster. Plutarch further cites Aristotle's non-extant The Constitution of the Bottiaeans, in which the young Athenians were reportedly said to not have been killed in Crete, but enslaved for the rest of their lives. Moreover, when, generations later, the Cretans sent an offering of their firstborn to Delphi in fulfillment of an oath, descendants of these Athenians happened to be among those sent. The whole group settled at Delphi but soon came to be unable to sustain themselves so they proceeded to move first to Iapygia in Italy and then to Bottiaea in Thrace.[5]


The individual names of the youths and maidens that sailed to Crete together with Theseus are very poorly preserved in extant sources. All of the recoverable information is collected in W. H. Roscher's Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie, which provides four alternate lists of names.[6] These are as follows.

List 1 (based on the largely corrupt one found in Servius,[7] with variant emendations by different scholars)

No. Young Men Maidens
1. Hippophorbas, son of Alypus/Aethlius or Eurybius/Elatus Periboea/Eriboea, daughter of Alcathous
2. Idas, son of Arcas Melanippe/Medippe/Melippe, daughter of Pyrrhus/Perius/Pylius
3. Antimachus/Antiochus, son of Euander Hesione, daughter of Celeus
4. Menestheus/Menesthes of Sounion Andromache, daughter of Eurymedon
5. [Am]phidocus of Rhamnous Eurymedusa, daughter of Polyxenus
6. Demoleon, son of Cydon/Cydas/Cydamus Europe, daughter of Laodicus
7. Porphyrion, son of Celeus Melite, daughter of Tricorythus/ Tricolonus/ Triagonus

List 2 (source: painting on François Vase; CIG 4. 8185)

No. Young Men Maidens
1. Phaedimus Hip[p]odameia
2. Daedochus (=Dadouchus; or Dailochus?) Menestho
3. [Eu]rysthenes Coronis
4. Heuchistratus (=Euxistratus) Damasistrate
5. Antiochus Asteria
6. Hernipus (=Hermippus) Lysidice
7. Procritus Eriboea

List 3 (source: black-figure painting on a vessel by Archicles and Glaucytes, from Vulci, in Munich; CIG 4. 8139)

No. Young Men Maidens
1. Lycinus Euanthe
2. Antias Anthylla
3. Simon Glyce
4. Lycius Enpedo (=Empedo[8])
5. Solon Eutil...
6. Timo... Eunice

List 4 (incomplete; source: black-figure painting on a different vase from Vulci, in Leiden; CIG 4. 7719)

No. Young Men Maidens
1. Phaenip[p]us Ti[mon]ice
2. Astydamas Demodice
3. Callicrates
4. Procritus

Of these only Eriboea (Periboea), the daughter of Alcathous, does appear in extant literary sources[9] and has a surviving independent mythological backstory.[10]

It is also remarked in the Lexicon that some of the names on Servius' list have been observed to correspond to names of the Attic demes (viz. Antiochus : Antiochis; Cydas/Cydamus : Cydantidae; Melite: Melite (deme) and Melite; name of Melite's father : Tricorynthus), which makes it more or less safe to assume that they may have come from an epic poem about Theseus. The vase painters, on the other hand, could have simply made the names up, although those on Lists 2 and 4 have been found reminiscent of the epic tradition as well.[11] The name Procritus, appearing on two of the four lists, has been compared to "Procris", although others suggested the reading "Herocritus" instead.[12] The names Polyxenus, Celeus and Menestheus on List 1 (if restored correctly) also recall the Attic heroes Polyxenus, Celeus and Menestheus.


  1. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca, 3. 15. 8
  2. ^ Diodorus Siculus, Library of History, 4. 61. 4
  3. ^ Plutarch, Life of Theseus, 15. 1 - 2
  4. ^ Servius on Aeneid, 16. 4
  5. ^ Plutarch, Life of Theseus, 16. 1 - 2
  6. ^ Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (ed.): Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie. Band V (T), Leipzig, 1916-1924, ss. 691 - 692
  7. ^ Servius on Virgil, Aeneid 6.21
  8. ^ Empedo was also the name of a spring on the Acropolis, later known as Clepsydra; see scholia on Aristophanes, Wasps, 857; on Lysistrata 913; Hesychius of Alexandria s.v. Klepsydra; Lexicon, Band I, s. 1243
  9. ^ See Bacchylides, Ode 17, lines 8 - 16; Hyginus, Astronomica, 2. 5. for the elaborate story of Theseus defending her against Minos' attempts of sexual abuse on the way from Athens to Crete
  10. ^ She was mother by Telamon of Ajax the Great; the most detailed story of her marriage to Telamon in Pseudo-Plutarch, Greek and Roman Parallel Stories, 27
  11. ^ Lexicon, Band V, s. 692
  12. ^ Lexicon, Band III.2, s. 3027


  • Wilhelm Heinrich Roscher (ed.): Ausführliches Lexikon der griechischen und römischen Mythologie. Band V (T), Leipzig, 1916–1924, ss. 691 - 692; cf. also:
    • Band I (A-H), Leipzig, 1884 - 1890, ss. 370 (u. Anthylla, Antias), 656 (u. Asteria 9), 661 (u. Astydamas), 942 (u. Damasistrate), 948 (u. Dailochos), 988 (u. Demoleon), 1243 (u. Empedo), 1396 (u. Euanthe), 1404 (u. Eunike), 1431 (u. Eurysthenes), 1441 (u. Euxistratos), 1691 (u. Glyke), 2434 (u. Hermippos), 2672 (u. Hippodameia 11), 2690 (u. Hippophorbas);
    • Band II.1 (I-K), Leipzig, 1890 - 1894, ss. 927 (u. Kallikrates), 1390 (u. Koronis 5), 1673 (u. Kydanos);
    • Band II. 2 (L-M), Leipzig, 1894 - 897, ss. 2211 (u. Lysidike), 2793 (u. Menestho)
    • Band III.1 (N-Pasicharea), Leipzig, 1897 - 1902, ss. 2219 - 2220 (u. Phaidimos), Band III.2, 1902 - 1909, (Pasikrateia-Pyxios), s. 3027 (u. Prokritos);
    • Band V ss. 964 (u. Timo), 965 (u. Timonike)
  • Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Band I, Halbband 2, Alexandrou-Apollokrates (1894), s. 2393 (u. Anthylla)