The Minotaur is a hybrid creature in Greek mythology that is part man and part bull. He was named Asterion at birth, after his mother's father-in-law.
Before he ascended the throne of Crete, Minos struggled with his brothers for the right to rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of approval. He was to sacrifice the bull in Poseidon's name, but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty. As punishment, Poseidon caused Pasiphaë, Minos' wife, to fall madly in love with the bull from the sea, the "Cretan Bull". She had Daedalus, the famous architect, make a hollow wooden cow for her as a decoy in order to fool the bull. Pasiphaë climbed into the wooden cow and the decoy proved successful. The offspring of their unnatural lovemaking was a monster called the Minotaur.
The Minotaur, as the Greeks imagined him, had the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious. King Minos, after getting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, ordered Daedalus to construct something to hold the Minotaur underneath Minos' palace (possibly the one in the city of Knossos). Daedalus then built the labyrinth.
It is said that because the king of Athens, Aegeus, had murdered Minos' son Androgeos in jealousy, Minos made Athens send a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens to Crete to feed the Minotaur every nine years.
When Theseus, son of King Aegeus, reached Athens and found out about these sacrifices, he wanted to put a stop to it and volunteered himself to be one of the youths. It was there that he met Minos' daughter Ariadne, who fell in love with the young hero. She promised to provide a way through the labyrinth if he agreed to marry her. When he did, she gave him a ball of thread and told him to fasten it to the entrance and carry it with him - then, once he needs to find his way out, he can just follow the path the thread made. Doing so, Theseus made his way into the labyrinth and found the Minotaur sleeping. He killed the beast with his bare hands and rescued the other youths, following the trail of thread out of the labyrinth.
Real life references
The Minotaur is often described by writers as the ancient Greeks' way of describing and representing the man's constant fight against his inner beast, and his struggle to control it.
In Popular Culture
- The Minotaur is featured on the eponymous fourth episode of the documental mythology television series Clash of the Gods.
In Popular Culture
- In 2000's The Mummy TV series, a Minotaur who was once a Majai became the guardian of the Scroll of Thebes encountered the O'Connell's and later became their ally.
- Clash of the Gods, Season 1 ep. 4