The tale of the Minotaur begins with Minos, the king of Crete. According to mythology, the god Poseidon sent King Minos a stunningly perfect white bull. This bull was meant to be a sacrifice to the great god of the sea. However, Minos valued the animal too much to use it as a sacrificial victim. In some versions of the story, Poseidon then punished King Minos by making Pasiphae, Minos's wife, fall passionately in love with the bull.
This was a powerful curse. Queen Pasiphae had no choice but submit to her lust for the animal, so with the help of the legendary inventor and craftsman Daedalus, she managed to satisfy her unnatural desires. The result of this union was the birth of a monster, which was half man and half bull. He was referred to the Minotaur, or the bull of Minos. King Minos then tried to hide this horrible creature in a vast and convoluted maze - the labyrinth.
So the Minotaur survived in the gloom of the labyrinth. Either every year or every nine years, seven maidens and seven young men from Athens were offered to appease the appetite of the monster. And it was this horrible custom that eventually resulted in the Minotaur's death. For, according to the legend, the Greek hero Theseus volunteered to go to Crete in place of one of the seven youths. Once in Crete, assisted by the princess Ariadne, Theseus defeated the Minotaur and in this way ended the monster's reign of terror.
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Who's Who in Classical Mythology
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! There are good entries on many Greek creatures.
This book is a great source for information about Greek and Roman mythology! Organized alphabetically, this who's who features information about over 1200 of the most intriguing characters - and creatures - from Classical myth and legend.