Catreus was one of the sons of the King Minos of Crete and his wife Queen Pasiphae, and the brother of Acacallis, Androgeus, Ariadne, Glaucus and Phaedra. He is known mainly through his children: his daughters Aerope, Apemosyne, and Clymene (4), and his son Althaemenes, whom he all loved very much. But when an oracle predicted him that he would be killed by one of his children, he became suspicious and he ended the relation with them.
The daughters Clymene and Aeropa were sold as slaves to Nauplius on the condition that they would never return to Crete. Nauplius married Clymene and she bore him two sons, Oeax and Palamedes. Aeropa married the Mycenaean king Atreus and by him she became the mother of Agamemnon and Menelaus. Apemosyne and Althaemenes, together with a group of people, had already left Crete. They sailed to the island of Rhodes and there they founded the city of Cretinea (New Crete). Althaemenes was living in Camiros as an honored man.
When Catreus became old, he wanted to reunite with his son and heir. He left Crete and searching for his son he arrived at the shores of Rhodes at night. The herdsmen from Camirus mistook them for pirates and they attacked Catreus and his men. Althaemenes, without knowing that he is fighting with his father, kills him by with spear. For the funeral Menelaus traveled from Sparta, and in his absence Paris abducted Helen, Menelaus' wife.
The myth about Catreus and his children is proof (known as well from the archaeological findings) that in the so called "heroic age" a close relation existed between Crete, Mycenae, and the other places in the Peloponnese and also between Crete and the islands such as Rhodes.