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Rhadamanthus was the son of Zeus and Europa. After his death he was made one of the three judges of the dead in the underworld. 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 (From which the municipality on the Mediterranean island of Crete takes its name) and Erythrus.

According to one account, Rhadamanthus ruled Crete before Minos, and gave the island an excellent code of laws, which the Spartans were believed to have copied. Driven out of Crete by his brother, 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 Asians, Aeacus those of Europeans, while Minos had the casting vote. Virgil (69 - 18 BC) makes Rhadamanthus one of the judges and punishers of the damned in the Underworld (Tartarus) section of The Aeneid.

Bernard Sergent claims that the story is a late invention in that the theme of competition for a beloved youth is not in keeping with the Cretan pederastic tradition, and there is no record of this Miletus prior to the second century BC.