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Glaucus

by Dr Alena Trckova-Flamee, Ph.D.
Glaukos, often named in Greek mythology and history, means shiny, bright and bluish-green. In the Cretan myths Glaukos was the son of Minos and Pasiphae. According to the story one day, when the small boy was playing with a ball or chasing a mouse in the Knossos palace, suddenly he disappeared. So his parents, not able to find him, asked the Delphic Oracle and they received an advise: "A marvelous creature has been born amongst you: whoever finds the true likeness for this creature will also find the child."

In Minos' herds was born a calf, which changed three times a day its color - from white to red and after that to black. Minos called his soothsayers, but nobody could explain the resemblance. Only Polyeidos from Argos, the descendant of Melampous, observed, that this calf reminds a ripening of the blackberries. Immediately, Minos ordered him to look for Glaukos.

Wandering through the palace labyrinth, Polyeidos saw the night-owl who was driving away bees from the entrance to a wine-cellar. When he was searching there, he found a large cask of honey and Glaukos drowned inside with his head down. Minos asked him to bring the child back to life. Although Polyeidos objected to it, because he was not Asclepius, Minos closed him together with a sword and the lifeless body of the boy in the tomb. Suddenly a serpent appeared near of the corpse and Polyeidos killed him with a sword. Another snake came to search for the first one and seeing, that it was dead, brought a magic plant and put it on the snake's dead body. Polyeidos was astonished, because the snake's life slowly restored. Promptly he took the magic plant and revived the small Glaukos.

Minos gave many gifts to Polyeidos, but he did not let him go back to Argos, until he would teach Glaukos his art. Polyeidos did as Minos wanted, but when at last he left Crete, he asked the boy to spit into his mouth and Glaukos gave back Polyeidos his wisdom.

Later on, Glaukos led an expedition westwards and demanded a kingdom from the Italians, but they scorned him. Nevertheless he introduced into Italy the Cretan military girdle and shield and by this reason he was called there Labicus - girdled.

Minos' son Glaukos is sometimes mixed up with another Glaukos, the son of Anthedon or Poseidon. This Glaukos observed, that certain grass bestows immortality. He ate some of the grass, leapt into the sea and became a sea-god.

A similar life-restoring herb as in the Greek myths is mentioned also in the Babylonian story of the well-known hero, Gilgamesh. From the near-eastern influence probably could come into the Greek thoughts the belief about the snake as a wise creature, which knows the plant of immortality. In Crete the snake became the symbol of resurrection, connected with the Snake Cult (see Minoan Snake Goddess).


Article details:

  • Also known as:
    Glaukos

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