Minos, along with his brothers, Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon, was raised by King Asterion of Crete. When Asterion died, his throne was claimed by Minos, who banished his brothers.
Minos reigned over Crete and the islands of the Aegean Sea three generations before the Trojan War. He lived at Knossos for periods of nine years, where he received instruction from Zeus in the legislation which he gave to the island. He was the author of the Cretan constitution and the founder of its naval supremacy.
In Attic tradition and on the Athenian stage Minos is a cruel tyrant, the heartless exactor of the tribute of Athenian youths to feed the Minotaur.
It is to this Minos that we owe the the stories of Theseus, Pasiphaë, the Minotaur, Daedalus, Glaucus, and Nisus. Unlike Minos I, Minos II fathered numerous children, including Androgeus, Catreus, Deucalion, Ariadne, Phaedra, and Glaucus - all born to him by his wife Pasiphaë. He was the grandfather of King Idomeneus, who led the Cretans to the Trojan War.
Asterios, king of Crete, adopted the three sons of Zeus and Europa: Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthus. According to the Odyssey he spoke with Zeus every nine years or for nine years. He got his laws straight from Zeus himself. When his son Androgeos had won the Panathenaeic Games the king, Aegeus, sent him to Marathan to fight a bull, resulting in the death of Androgeos. Outraged, Minos went to Athens to revenge his son, and on the way he camped at Megara. The king there at the time was Nisos and his strength came from his hair. His daughter, Scylla, fell in love with him and cut off her father's purple hair so Minos could conquer the city. After his triumph, he punished Scylla for her treachery against her father by tying her to a boat and dragging her until she drowned. On arriving in Attica, he asked Zeus to punish the city, and the god struck it with plague and hunger. An oracle told the Athenians to meet any of Minos' demands if they wanted to escape the revenge. Minos then asked Athens to send seven boys and seven girls to Crete every nine years to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. As a punishment for Minos' refusing to sacrifice a certain bull, Poseidon made his wife Pasiphae fall in love with it, giving birth to the Minotaur. Minos had his architect Daedalus construct a labyrinth in which he hid the monster. The Minotaur was defeated by the hero Theseus with the help of Minos' daughter Ariadne.
Minos himself is said to have died at Camicus in Sicily, whither he had gone in pursuit of Daedalus, who had given Ariadne the clue by which she guided Theseus through the Labyrinth. He was killed by the daughters of Cocalus, king of Agrigentum, who poured boiling water over him while he was taking a bath. Subsequently his remains were sent back to the Cretans, who placed them in a sarcophagus, on which was inscribed: "The tomb of Minos, the son of Zeus."
The earlier legend knows Minos as a beneficent ruler, legislator, and suppressor of piracy. His constitution was said to have formed the basis of that of Lycurgus for Sparta. In accordance with this, after his death he became judge of the shades in the Underworld.