Daughter of king Catreus of Crete, and granddaughter of Minos. Catreus had been told that one of his children would kill him one day and so he made sure to get rid of them. His son Althaemenes and daughter Apemosyne left willingly, but Aerope and her sister Clymene were given to Nauplius to be sold abroad.

Aerope was sold to Atreus' son Pleisthenes and they had three children: Agamemnon, Menelaos and Anaxibia. Because Pleisthenes was sickly, he died young, and so Atreus decided to marry his daughter-in-law and adopt his grandchildren. It was through these marriages that Aerope became the link between Crete and Mycenae.

Atreus' brother Thyestes seduced Aerope, which was to lead to the famous curse of Atreus' house. Aerope was drowned for her adultery.