One of the sons of the Cretan king Minos by Pasiphaë or Crete. When yet a boy, while he was playing at ball,1 or while pursuing a mouse,2 he fell into a cask full of honey, and died in it. Minos for a long time searched after his son in vain, and was at length informed by Apollo or the Curetes that the person who should devise the most appropriate comparison between a cow, which could assume three different colors, and any other object, should find the boy and restore him to his father.
Minos assembled his soothsayers, but as none of them was able to do what was required, a stranger, Polyidus of Argos, solved the problem by likening the cow to a mulberry, which is at first white, then red, and in the end black. Polyidus, who knew nothing of the oracle, was thus compelled by his own wisdom to restore Glaucus to his father.
By his prophetic powers he discovered that Glaucus had not perished in the sea, and being guided by an owl (γλαῦξ) and bees, he found him in the cask of honey.3 Minos now further demanded the restoration of his son to life. As Polyidus could not accomplish this, Minos, who attributed his refusal to obstinacy, ordered him to be entombed alive with the body of Glaucus.
When Polyidus was thus shut up in the vault, he saw a serpent approaching the dead body, and killed the animal. Presently another serpent came, carrying a herb, with which it covered the dead serpent. The dead serpent was thereby restored to life, and when Polyidus covered the body of Glaucus with the same herb, the boy at once rose into life again. Both shouted for assistance from without; and when Minos heard of it, he had the tomb opened. In his delight at having recovered his child, he munificently rewarded Polyidus, and sent him back to his country.
The story of the Cretan Glaucus and Polyidus was a favorite subject with the ancient poets and artists; it was not only represented in mimic dances,4 but Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides made it the subject of separate dramatic compositions.
- Hyginus. Fabulae, 136.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 3.1 ff.
- Aelian. History of Animals v, 2.
- Lucian. De Saltatione, 49.
- Welcker. Die Griechische Tragödien. Vol. 1, pp. 62, 416; Vol. 2, p. 767 ff.
- Comp. Tzetzes on Lycophron, 811.
- Hyginus. Poetical Astronomy ii, 14.
- Palaephatus, 27.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 10.3.
- Scholiast on Euripides' Alcestis.
- Scholiast on Pindar's Pythian Odes iii, 96.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.