Document belonging to the Greek Mythology Link, a web site created by Carlos Parada, author of Genealogical Guide to Greek Mythology
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This is the Cretan king who sold a couple of his daughters, and was accidentally killed by his son. Yet nothing was more fateful about him than his own funeral.

How worries began

Catreus' worries started the day he inquired from the oracle in which way his life would end. For the oracle answered that he was fated to die by the hand of one of his children. On learning such a sad prophecy, Catreus hid the oracles. But since the most distinctive feature of secrets is that they are often unveiled, the oracle was discovered by his son Althaemenes. Knowing secrets, however, often causes disturbances and anxiety, and that is why fear possessed Althaemenes. Thinking that he should try to avoid becoming his father's murderer, he left Crete, taking his sister Apemosyne with him, and settled in the island of Rhodes. There he took possession of the territory called Cretinia, and after having ascended the highest mountain in Rhodes, which is Mount Atabyrium, he founded an altar to Zeus. Later Hermes fell in love with Althaemenes' sister Apemosyne, but she, being faster in running than the god, which sounds indeed extraordinary, fled away from him, and Hermes was unable to catch her. But then the god spread fresh hides on her path and she, having slipped, was caught by him and deflowered. Apemosyne came home and told Althaemenes what had happened, but he, believing the story of the god to be a mere pretext, kicked her to death. Such was the terrible deed that Althaemenes, who had migrated so that he would not kill his own father, performed in his new land. When years passed and Catreus was an old man, he wished to transmit the kingdom to his son Althaemenes. And with this purpose in mind, he sailed to Rhodes. However, when he landed the cowherds took him and his men for pirates, and chased them. Catreus, they say, tried to identify himself, but the Rhodians could not hear him because of the barking of the dogs. And so while the cowherds were still pelting the intruders, Althaemenes arrived and, casting a spear, slew unwittingly his own father. This is how Althaemenes, after having murdered his sister, killed also his father as the oracle had prophesied. Later, when he learned the truth of what he had done, he disappeared in a chasm while he was praying.

The Funeral of Catreus

Catreus is also known for having given two of his daughters, Aerope 1 and Clymene 5, to the merchant and sailor Nauplius 1, to be sold in foreign lands. Aerope 1 became the mother of Agamemnon and Menelaus, either by Plisthenes 1 or by Atreus, but Clymene 5 was married by Nauplius 1, who had by her sons: Palamedes and Oeax. Yet the most interesting thing about Catreus is probably his funeral, which was celebrated in Crete at the time when the seducer Paris had come to Sparta to fetch the bride that was the bribe he had received on Mount Ida when he judged the three goddesses. And because Catreus was Menelaus' grandfather, the latter sailed to Crete to perform the obsequies, leaving Paris alone with Helen at his palace in Sparta. These two then, taking advantage of such an splendid opportunity, became lovers during Menelaus' absence and fled away to Troy, filling the ship with Spartan treasures. And so, because of The Funeral of Catreus, Menelaus left Sparta, which made the abduction of Helen possible, which led to the Trojan War.


Parentage (two versions)




Minos 2 & Pasiphae

Minos 2 & Crete 1

Queen Pasiphae of Crete is the daughter of Helius.
Crete 1 is daughter of King Asterius 3, husband of Europa and son of Tectamus, son of Dorus 1, son of Hellen 1, son of Deucalion 1, the man who survived the Flood.



Aerope 1

Clymene 5


Althaemenes emigrated from Crete to Rhodes. He became the murderer of his sister, kicking her to death, and later unintentionally killed his father, whom he took for a pirate. He disappeared in a chasm (see also main text above).
Aerope 1 was given by Catreus to Nauplius 1 to be sold in foreing lands. She married Plisthenes 1, or as others say Atreus, and became the mother of Agamemnon and Menelaus.
Clymene 5 was also given to Nauplius 1 to be sold in foreing lands, but Nauplius 1 having married her, she gave birth to Palamedes and Oeax.
Apemosyne emigrated to Rhodes with Althaemenes, who killed her after she was seduced by Hermes.

Genealogical Charts

Names in this chart: Aerope 1, Agamemnon, Agenor 1, Althaemenes, Amymone 1, Anaxibia 4, Anchinoe, Apemosyne, Ares, Atreus, Belus 1, Catreus, Clymene 5, Clytoneus 1, Corybas, Danaus 1, Epaphus 1, Europa, Helius, Himas, Hippodamia 3, Ide 1, Io, Ithone, Lernus 1, Libya, Lycastus 1, Lyctius, Memphis 2, Menelaus, Minos 1, Minos 2, Naubolus 3, Nauplius 1, Nauplius 2, Nausimedon, Nilus, Oeax, Oenomaus 1, Palaemon 1, Palamedes, Pasiphae, Pelops 1, Perseis, Pluto 3, Poseidon, Proetus 4, Tantalus 1, Zeus.

Related sections

Apd.3.1.2, 3.2.1-2; Dio.4.60.4, 5.59.3.