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Famous spearman Idomeneus led the Cretans
from Cnossus, fortified Gortyn, Lyctus, Miletus,
chalky Lycastus, from Phaestus and Rhytium,
both populous towns, with other warriors
from Crete's hundred cities. Idomeneus,
famous for fighting with a spear, led these troops,
along with Meriones, as skilled at killing men
as Ares, god of war. They brought eighty black ships.

Homer, Iliad.

Meriones and Idomeneus , Tabula Iliaca

In Greek mythology, Idomeneus (Ιδομενέας / Ἰδομενεύς) was a Cretan warrior, grandson of Minos. He led the Cretan armies to the Trojan War and was also one of Helen's suitors. Meriones was his charioteer and brother-in-arms.

In the Iliad, he is found among the first rank of the Greek generals, leading his troops and engaging the enemy head-on, and escaping serious injury. Like most of the other leaders of the Greeks he is alive and well as the story comes to a close.

After the war, his ship hit a horrible storm. Idomeneus promised Poseidon that he would sacrifice the first living thing he saw when he returned home if Poseidon would save his ship and crew. The first living thing was his son, whom Idomeneus duly sacrificed. The gods were angry at his murder of his own son and they sent him in exile to Calabria in Italy. (Virgil III, 400)

In an alternate version, his own subjects on Crete sent him in exile because he brought a plague with him from Troy. He fled to Calabria, and then Colophon, Asia Minor, where he died.

Idomeneo, a 1780 opera seria by Mozart is based on the story of Idomeneus.


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