A-Z: General definitions: Minotaur


Monster with a bull's head and a man's body, the offspring of the union between Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, and a bull. King Minos of Crete extracted an annual tribute of seven boys and seven girls from the Athenians. These unfortunate victims were fed to the Minotaur, half man half bull, who inhabited the Labyrinth at Knossos. Theseus, the son of Aegeus, the Athenian king, persuaded his father to let him go to Crete as part of the tribute. In Crete he enlisted the help of Minos' daughter, Ariadne, who gave him a sword and a ball of thread. Having killed the Minotaur with the sword and retraced his footsteps by following the thread, Theseus escaped from Crete with Ariadne. However he failed to hoist the white sail which had been arranged as the sign that he had been successful. Aegeus, seeing a black sail and presuming his son dead, threw himself into the sea which now bears his name. Ariadne was abandoned by an ungrateful Theseus on the island of Naxos.

Related Topics

Heracles and the Cretan Bull; Daedalus and Icarus

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