The Minotaur is a Greek mythological beast. Half human and half bull. The legends surrounding this unnatural creature are numerous, but they all agree on one thing. It was ferocious and had a thing for human flesh. It came about by the intercourse of a divine bull and Pasiphaë, the wife of a Cretan king, King Minos, recognized the wretchedness of this beast, and decided to trap it in a insidious maze called the Labyrinth. Every year he sacrificed 7 young boys and 7 young girls to this bloodthirsty beast as a way of payback for the death of his son. This obviously cannot go on. A hero emerges, Theseus. Theseus slays the Minotaur in the heart of the labyrinth and is declared a hero forever more.
Half bull and half man
The Minotaur was the result of a unnatural and divinely inspired succession of events. It all began when the Crete king Minos prayed to Poseidon for the recognition and blessing of the god. In answering his prayers, Poseidon sent forth a beautiful. snow-white bull from the sea. Minos recognizing the beauty of this magnificent beast, decided not to sacrifice it as he had promised to do. Instead he substituted it with a lower beast. This naturally incurred the wrath of the God of the Sea and in return Poseidon made Aphrodite curse Minos’s wife, Pasiphaë with an unnatural sexual lust for the bull. You can probably fill in the rest of the blanks.. But if you must know…. Pasiphaë asked the talented Athenian craftsman Daedalus to make her a hollow wooden cow, so that she could fulfill her zoophilic desire. What happened next, was, as you might have predicted. The impregnation of Pasiphaë, and the birth of a beast. Half-man and half-bull. the Minotaur.
The birth and imprisonment of the beast
The story naturally doesn’t end there. It’s rather where it begins.. As soon as king Minos discovered the news about this terrifying creature, he felt the obligation to hide the Minotaur from the rest of the world. He then asked the very same craftsman, Daedalus, to construct a Labyrinth, a maze of impossible and tortorous passages. The maze was indeed impossible to escape from, except for the architect of the labyrinth, Daedalus. The beast was placed in the very centre of the maze and there the atrocities would take place. You could ask the question. Why didn’t Minos just have the minotaur killed as soon as he found out about it. We just don’t know. For some reason he decided to keep it alive, and so he did. But the way of doing so was nothing less than atrocious.
The sacrifices and the emergence of the hero
Things led to other things and slowly, but surely, a war had begun. King Minos had waged war with Athens. Even though succesful in winning the war, he lost his son, Androgeus, who was murdered in Attica. This tragic incident made the fury and vengeance of king Minos grow into sheer madness. As a way of payback he made terms with Athens to send a yearly tribute of seven youths and seven maidens which Minos in turn threw in to the labyrinth. To either die by the treacherous passages, hunger or killed and devoured by the Minotaur.
To think that one would be a volunteer for such unthinkable events, is mind boggling. I suppose that’s why heroes exist and what they are made of. To do what none else dares to do. To conquer obstacles and evil wherever you can find it. Theseus, was the volunteer. He took the place of one the youths and sailed to Crete.
Theseus, the slayer of the Minotaur
When Theseus arrived in Crete, the love of a young princess awaited him. The daughter of King Minos, Ariadne immediately fell in love with the honourable Athenian stranger. She contacted and talked with the architect of the labyrinth, Daedalus, to acquire some knowledge of ways of escaping the labyrinth. Daedalus was after all, the only one who knew the way in and out. Daedalus told Ariadne to provide Theseus with a clue of thread so that he could find his way back to the entrance when he had finished his quest inside the maze. It all began and Theseus did indeed accept the help given by the enamored King’s daughter. He slowly, but surely made his way through the treacherous passages and found himself at last in the heart of it. The Minotaur sleeping, was woken up by this intruder on his territory. Theseus being the strong warrior he is, fought and overpowered the great beast and eventually slayed and decapitated the Minotaur. Theseus used the thread as a means of finding his way out of the maze, and sails of back to Athens. Leaving Ariadne, for some strange reason, heartbroken and alone.
Morals in the Myth: Evil?
Was the Minotaur really evil? I believe that any creature, neglected, mistreated and imprisoned from its very birth would not be a beautiful sight. The Minotaur hadn’t any say of its appearance and of its parents. If you placed any human being in the same circumstances as the Minotaur was exposed to, it would have been the same result. A wretched creature with complete and utter lack of respect for anything living. Perhaps if the half-man, half-bull creature was treated and cared for with respect and kindness, it would not have become such a ferocious, blood thirsty beast?
Daniel Seeker is a wandering dervish and lifelong student of the past, present and future. He realized that he was made of immaculate and timeless consciousness when meditating in his hermit cave on the island of Gotland. His writings are mostly a reflection of that realizaton. Daniel currently studies history, philosophy, egyptology and western esotericism at Uppsala Universitet. He’s also currently writing his B.A. thesis in history which explores how Buddhist and Hindu texts were first properly translated and introduced to the western world in the late 18th and 19th century.