Friday, May 6, 2011

Greek Myth of the Month: THE MINOTAUR

The Minotaur is one of the most popular characters in Greek mythology. Eternally linked with Theseus and labyrinths, the Minotaur is at ounce a tragic character but also an ominously powerful one that has been evoking images and inspiring artists since forever. This month I'll try to cover the many cool aspects of this most impressive man-beast.

Here's how the story of the Minotaur began:

After 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 honor of Poseidon but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty. To punish Minos, Aphrodite made Pasiphaë, Minos' wife, fall madly in love with the bull from the sea, the Cretan Bull. She had the archetypal craftsman Daedalus make a hollow wooden cow for her. Pasiphaë climbed into this wooden cow in order to copulate with the white bull. The offspring of their coupling was the monstrous Minotaur. Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious; being the unnatural offspring of man and beast, he had no natural source of nourishment and thus devoured man for sustenance. Minos, after getting advice from the oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. Its location was near Minos' palace in Knossos (wikipedia).

As usual in Greek mythology, the story of the Minotaur is a mixture of tragedy, depravity and a pinch of twisted dark humour.

An original Greek vase depicting Theseus battling the Minotaur.

An example of the Cretan maze Minos created after meeting the Oracle at 
Delphi, in order to trap the fearsome Minotaur. Cool stuff. I would love to
see a film which shows the building of this maze/labyrinth and how they
got the Minotaur there. 


Kike said...

"Immortals" will have a minotaur. But it will be not a faithful adaptation of the myth, sadly...

Anonymous said...

Terry Gilliam, (who gave us an excellent "realistic" minotaur in TIME BANDITS) wanted to make a full-length film based on the legend, but couldn't get funding.