Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean, and Archaic Greek Mythology

Daedalus, Icarus, and Theseus and the Minotaur

Who was the Minotaur and how was he produced?

A strange and even shocking tale leads to the birth of the Minotaur. Minos, according to some sources, was the son of Zeus and the mortal woman Europa. In order to have his way with Europa, Zeus had taken the form of a bull and carried her off over the sea to Crete, where Minos was born. In time, Minos proclaimed himself king of Crete, justifying his proclamation by his divine heritage and claiming the gods would give him anything he asked for. When he asked Poseidon for a special bull to be sacrificed, the god sent him a beautiful white bull. But Minos so admired the bull that he placed it with his own herd and substituted an ordinary bull for the sacrifice. Poseidon was understandably angered by this duplicity and planned a terrible revenge. Minos had married the beautiful Pasiphae and made her his queen. Poseidon caused Pasiphae to fall in love with the great white bull. She so lusted after the bull that she begged Daedalus for help. Daedalus, always clever, built a model of a beautiful cow to attract the white bull. Pasiphae positioned her body inside the model in such a way as to make herself available for intercourse with the deceived bull. The result of this unholy liaison was the half-bull, half-man monster, the Minotaur.

Minos housed Pasiphae’s terrifying offspring in the Labyrinth built by Daedalus, really more of a maze than a true labyrinth.


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