- "Rhadamanthys" redirect here. For the antagonist character of Saint Seiya, see Wyvern Rhadamanthys.
In Greek mythology, Rhadamanthus (//) or Rhadamanthys (Ancient Greek: Ῥαδάμανθυς) was a wise king, the son of Zeus and Europa. Later accounts even make him out to be one of the judges of the dead. His brothers were Sarpedon and Minos (also a king and later a judge of the dead).
Rhadamanthus was raised by Asterion. He had two sons, Gortys and Erythrus.
Other sources (e.g. Plutarch, Theseus 20) credit Rhadamanthys rather than Dionysus as the husband of Ariadne, and the father of Oenopion, Staphylus and Thoas. In this account, Ariadne was the daughter of Minos, Rhadamanthys' brother; another Ariadne was the daughter of Minos' grandson and namesake, who features in the Theseus legend, and was rescued by Dionysus.
Although he was frequently considered one of the judges of the dead in the underworld, he known for few legislative activities. We have a reference to a law of Rhadamanthus ordering the Cretans to swear oaths by animals and to another law of Rhadamanthus saying if a person defends themselves against another who initiated violence then they should suffer no penalty.
Driven out of Crete by Minos, who was jealous of his popularity, he fled to Boeotia, where he wedded Alcmene. Homer represents him as dwelling in the Elysian Fields (Odyssey iv. 564), the paradise for the immortal sons of Zeus.
According to later legends (c. 400 BC), on account of his inflexible integrity he was made one of the judges of the dead in the lower world, together with Aeacus and Minos. He was supposed to judge the souls of easterners, Aeacus those of westerners, while Minos had the casting vote (Plato, Gorgias 524A).
References in literature
In the E.A. Robinson poem "The Voice of Age" Rhadamanthus is mentioned in the first line, comparing him to the woman in the poem.
In the poem "The Delphic Oracle Upon Plotinus" by William Butler Yeats, "Bland Rhadamanthus" is depicted as beckoning to Plotinus.
In asserting the Christian doctrine of forgiveness, William Blake's poem "The Everlasting Gospel" contains the lines "For what is Antichrist but those / Who against Sinners Heaven close / With Iron bars, in Virtuous State, / And Rhadamanthus at the Gate?"[clarification needed]
In Books 4 and 7 of Homer's Odyssey.
In John Wright's Golden Age trilogy, the protagonist, Phaeton (see Phaëton), belongs to Rhadamanthus Mansion of the Silver-Gray Manorial Schola. Rhadamanthus is also the name of the resident artificial intelligence, advisor and servant to its house members.
He is mentioned briefly in Harlan Ellison's short story "Goodbye to All That," published in McSweeney's Mammoth Treasure of Thrilling Tales.
In James Stephens's The Demi-Gods (1914), in "The Threepenny Piece", Rhadamanthus (portrayed as an immense and terrifying judge of the dead), condemns a man to Hell. But the man, once in Hell, accuses Rhadamanthus of having stolen his threepenny coin. This becomes an immense cause célèbre in Hell, forcing Rhadamanthus to reconsider his verdict.
In John Milton's Areopagitica, Milton criticizes censorship in which a book must undergo "the judgment of Radamanth and his colleagues, ere it can pass the ferry backward into light".
- Porphyry, De Abstinentia III.16.6, on which see Jean Bouffartigue, Porphyre, De l'abstinence, (Paris) 1979, p. 171 n. 2.
- Apollodorus Library of Greek Mythology, II.4
- Mill on the Floss; book 1: "Boy and Girl", 1860, p. 46