Minotaur in Greek Mythology

Minotaur, in Greek mythology, was a creature who was half-man and half-bull. He resided in Labyrinth, a structure of maze which was built by King Minos of Crete, with the sole aim to confine this monster. The name Minotaur is derived from Greek word Minotauros, wherein mino is used to portray King Minos, while tauros means a bull. Minotaur is also known as the ‘Bull of Minos’.

After ascending to the throne of Crete, Minos had to fight his brothers for his right over the throne. He prayed to Poseidon, the God of the Sea, to send him a white bull, which he would sacrifice in honor of Poseidon. The white bull was to be a gesture from the gods, approving his right over the throne of Crete. Poseidon sent him a beautiful white-bull, but mesmerized by its beauty, Minos decided to keep it and instead sacrificed a different bull, thus calling upon Poseidon’s wrath.

Poseidon made Minos’ wife, Pasiphae fall madly in love with the white bull. She ordered the Athenian inventor Daedalus to make a wooden cow, which would be hollow from inside. Daedalus made a masterpiece and covered it with a hide of a cow. Pasiphae got inside the cow, after which it was set in the meadows. Assuming it to be a real cow, the bull was lured into copulation with her. Eventually, Pasiphae gave birth to Minotaur. When King Minos came to know about his wife’s illicit affair, he imprisoned Daedalus for misusing his skills.

The Minotaur had a body of a man, but the head and tail of a bull. He grew up to be a ferocious monster. Eventually, King Minos ordered Daedalus to construct a labyrinth to confine this monster. This labyrinth consisted of passages that were very confusing and hence it was difficult for any individual to find his way out of it.

In the meanwhile, Androgeus, the son of King Minos was killed by Athenians. Minos waged a war over Athens to avenge the murder of his son and defeated them. Having lost the war, Athenians were forced to send seven youths and seven maidens as a feast for Minotaur, confined in the labyrinth, every year.

As time went by, most of the young men and women of Athens were already sacrificed to Minotaur. At this point, Theseus, the son of the King of Athens Aegeus, came forward and volunteered to kill the monster. He was sent to the labyrinth along with a group of young men and women, who were to be offered as a feast to Minotaur. In Crete, Adriane, the daughter of King Minos, fell in love with Theseus. She gave him a ball of thread, which helped him to retrace his path back from the maze. In a valiant battle that followed, Theseus killed Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and escaped from Crete. He eventually went on to become the King of Athens.

The fierce contest between Minotaur and Theseus has been frequently depicted through various forms of Greek art. The ancient Greek mythology is full of characters such as Minotaur; Cerberus and Nemean Lion are few other characters to name.