A to Z Challenge Folklore

Minotaur #folklore #AtoZChallenge

H is for Half-Human

Learn more about the challenge here.

I’m doing folklore and book review posts to reach and please a larger audience. Previous years have shown select interest in both and to minimise blogging throughout the year, I’m focusing my efforts on April.

If you’d rather check out my book review for today, go here.

Learn more about the A to Z Challenge here.

A half-human creature from Greek mythology I first saw in Disney’s Hercules.

Minotaur. Image credit.

Folklore

Old Greek Stories by James Baldwin [1895]

There lived in those days among the hills of Crete a terrible monster called the Minotaur, the like of which has never been seen from that time until now. This creature, it was said, had the body of a man, but the face and head of a wild bull and the fierce nature of a mountain lion. The people of Crete would not have killed him if they could; for they thought that the Mighty Folk who lived with Jupiter on the mountain top had sent him among them, and that these beings would be angry if any one should take his life. He was the pest and terror of all the land. Where he was least expected, there he was sure to be; and almost every day some man, woman, or child was caught and devoured by him.

“You have done so many wonderful things,” said the king to Daedalus, “can you not do something to rid the land of this Minotaur?”

“Shall I kill him?” asked Daedalus.

“Ah, no!” said the king. “That would only bring greater misfortunes upon us.”

“I will build a house for him then,” said Daedalus, “and you can keep him in it as a prisoner.”

“But he may pine away and die if he is penned up in prison,” said the king.

“He shall have plenty of room to roam about,” said Daedalus; “and if you will only now and then feed one of your enemies to him, I promise you that he shall live and thrive.”

So the wonderful artisan brought together his workmen, and they built a marvelous house with so many rooms in it and so many winding ways that no one who went far into it could ever find his way out again; and Daedalus called it the Labyrinth, and cunningly persuaded the Minotaur to go inside of it. The monster soon lost his way among the winding passages, but the sound of his terrible bellowings could be heard day and night as he wandered back and forth vainly trying to find some place to escape.

Minotaur. Image credit.

Tales of Troy and Greece by Andrew Lang [1907]

‘None has ever come back to tell the tale,’ said Medea, ‘but the sailors of Minos say that he places the captives in a strange prison called the Labyrinth. It is full of dark winding ways, cut in the solid rock, and therein the captives are lost and perish of hunger, or live till they meet a Thing called the Minotaur. This monster has the body of a strong man, and a man’s legs and arms, but his head is the head of a bull, and his teeth are the teeth of a lion, and no man may deal with him. Those whom he meets he tosses, and gores, and devours. Whence this evil beast came I know, but the truth of it may not be spoken. It is not lawful for King Minos to slay the Horror, which to him is great shame and grief; neither may he help any man to slay it. Therefore, in his anger against the Athenians he swore that, once in every nine years, he would give fourteen of the Athenian men and maidens to the Thing, and that none of them should bear sword or spear, dagger or axe, or any other weapon. Yet, if one of the men, or all of them together, could slay the monster, Minos made oath that Athens should be free of him and his tribute.’

Theseus laughed and stood up. ‘Soon,’ he said, ‘shall King Minos be free from the Horror, and Athens shall be free from the tribute, if, indeed, the gods be with me. For me need no lot be cast; gladly I will go to Crete of my free will.’

‘I needed not to be a prophetess to know that you would speak thus,’ said Medea. ‘But one thing even I can do. Take this phial, and bear it in your breast, and, when you face the Minotaur, do as I shall tell you.’ Then she whispered some words to Theseus, and he marked them carefully.

Theseus first fastened one end of his coil of string to a pointed rock, and then began to look about him. The labyrinth was dark, and he slowly walked, holding the string, down the broadest path, from which others turned off to right or left. He counted his steps, and he had taken near three thousand steps when he saw the pale sky showing in a small circle cut in the rocky roof, above his head, and he saw the fading stars. Sheer walls of rock went up on either hand of him, a roof of rock was above him, but in the roof was this one open place, across which were heavy bars. Soon the daylight would come.

Theseus set the lamp down on a rock behind a corner, and he waited, thinking, at a place where a narrow dark path turned at right angles to the left. Looking carefully round he saw a heap of bones, not human bones, but skulls of oxen and sheep, hoofs of oxen, and shank bones. ‘This,’ he thought, ‘must be the place where the food of the Minotaur is let down to him from above. They have not Athenian youths and maidens to give him every day! Beside his feeding place I will wait.’ Saying this to himself, he rose and went round the corner of the dark narrow path cut in the rock to the left. He made his own breakfast, from the food that Ariadne had given him, and it occurred to his mind that probably the Minotaur might also be thinking of breakfast time.

He sat still, and from afar away within he heard a faint sound, like the end of the echo of a roar, and he stood up, drew his long sword, and listened keenly. The sound came

nearer and louder, a strange sound, not deep like the roar of a bull, but more shrill and thin. Theseus laughed silently. A monster with the head and tongue of a bull, but with the chest of a man, could roar no better than that! The sounds came nearer and louder, but still with the thin sharp tone in them. Theseus now took from his bosom the phial of gold that Medea had given him in Athens when she told him about the Minotaur. He removed the stopper, and held his thumb over the mouth of the phial, and grasped his long sword with his left hand, after fastening the clue of thread to his belt.

The roars of the hungry Minotaur came nearer and nearer; now his feet could be heard padding along the echoing floor of the labyrinth. Theseus moved to the shadowy corner of the narrow path, where it opened into the broad light passage, and he crouched there; his heart was beating quickly. On came the Minotaur, up leaped Theseus, and dashed the contents of the open phial in the eyes of the monster; a white dust flew out, and Theseus leaped back into his hiding place. The Minotaur uttered strange shrieks of pain; he rubbed his eyes with his monstrous hands; he raised his head up towards the sky, bellowing and confused; he stood tossing his head up and down; he turned round and round about, feeling with his hands for the wall. He was quite blind. Theseus drew his short sword, crept up, on naked feet, behind the monster, and cut through the back sinews of his legs at the knees. Down fell the Minotaur, with a crash and a roar, biting at the rocky floor with his lion’s teeth, and waving his hands, and clutching at the empty air. Theseus waited for his chance, when the clutching hands rested, and then, thrice he drove the long sharp blade of bronze through the heart of the Minotaur. The body leaped, and lay still.

Minotaur. Image credit.

Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore by Theresa Bane

Minotaur (MIHN-oh-tor)

Variations: Asterion (“starry”), Asterios

In ancient Greek mythology Asterion, better known as the Minotaur (“bull of Minos”), was born the son of Queen Pasiphae, a daughter of the sun god and second generation Titan Helios (Sol), and a divine bull; however the story itself is said by a few scholars to have Egyptian origins.

…The resulting child of her union with the bull created a hybrid born with the head and tail of its father but the body of a human. Although the bastard prince of Crete was named Asterion he became known as the Minotaur.

The king hired the inventor Daidalos to construct a gigantic enclosed labyrinth to be the hybrid’s home and prison. The Minotaur, exceedingly fierce and strong, was fed a diet of youths and maidens; these individuals were supplied by the city of Athens as tribute for being responsible for the death of Crete’s Prince Androgeos. Each year (or every nine years; sources conflict) Athens had to send seven youths and seven maidens to be its food for as long as the monster lived. The tribute continued until Theseus, son of Aigeus, was one of the youths sent; with the assistance of one of the daughters of the king, he was able to kill the Minotaur with a sword and escape with her back to Athens.

*More can be read in the book.

Minotaur. Image credit.

The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John & Caitlín Matthews

MINOTAUR

According to the myth, Pasiphae, the wife of King Minos of Crete, evinced an unnatural desire to mate with a great white bull sacred to Poseidon, the god of the sea, or possibly the god in this form. She employed the Greek craftsman Daedalus to create an artificial cow’s body into which she climbed, thus enabling herself to be enjoyed by the bull. The result of this coupling was that she brought forth a bull-headed child, who was named Asterion, but who is best known today as the Minotaur. The second part of the myth describes how Daedalus build a great maze beneath the court of Minos in which the monster was placed. Because he had within him the blood of a god, he was not killed but rather placated with human sacrifices, which were sent into the maze to be consumed by the monster.

At this time, Crete exercised enormous power in the Mediterranean world, and received tribute from the city-state of Athens. This tribute took the form of seven young boys and girls who were sent to the island every seventh year to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. This continued for a number of years, until the Athenian hero Theseus substituted himself for one of the tributes. Once in Crete, he was befriended by the King’s daughter, Ariadne, who undertook to help him destroy the Minotaur. She gave him a ball of red twine that he could unwind behind him as he threaded the passageways of the maze beneath the court, and use it to find his way out again. In the maze, Theseus encountered the Minotaur and slew him. He then escaped from Crete with the Princess Ariadne, who he later abandoned on the island of Naxos.

*More can be read in the book.

Minotaur. Image credit.

Further Reading:

Minotaur. Image credit.

Folklore in a Nutshell by Ronel

The minotaur was the result of Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete, having an unnatural desire to mate with one of Poseidon’s sacred bulls. Being a queen, she got what she wanted and the offspring of this coupling was a child with a bull’s head. The child, Asterion, had a temper and a taste for human flesh. At first it was cast out of the city, to roam the countryside and do what it wanted, but it’s appetite grew and a labyrinth was constructed beneath the city for it to live in. Human sacrifices were sent in to placate the monster. Every seventh year, seven boys and seven girls were sent from Athens to Crete to be sacrificed to the monster. One year, Theseus was one of the tributes. He befriended princess Ariadne, used red twine to navigate the labyrinth, slew the minotaur, and ran off with the princess.

Clearly, there was some sort of intervention by the Olympian gods for the Minotaur to not be killed before Theseus did the job.

Minotaur. Image credit.

Minotaur in Modern Culture

Grimm TV series

Taureus-Armenta (Minotaur). Image credit.

Taureus-Armenta (TOHR-uhs ahr-MEN-tuh or tohr-REY-uhs ahr-MEN-tuh; Lat. Taureus “bull” or “ox” + Armenta “cattle for ploughing”) is a minotaur-like Wesen that appeared in “Volcanalis“.

The Taureus-Armenta has quite a severe woge. Short, gray fur grows all over its body except around the mouth where it is black. The nose reshapes to a bull snout, the brow ridge becomes more pronounced, the ears become bovine-like, and two long, curvy horns emerge from above their ears.

The Taureus-Armenta is famous for stubbornness and courage in the face of adversity. Highly respected on the battlefield, this Wesen is often found on the front lines, willing to face any enemy, with nerves of steel under fire. Known for its powerful inclination to volunteer for even the most dangerous tasks, the creature is steadfast in its approach and is amongst the most honorable of Wesen. A Taureus-Armenta does not fear death. 

Learn more here.

The Librarians TV series

Minotaur in bull form. Image credit.
Minotaur in human form. Image credit.

The Minotaur is a magical creature who was formerly trapped in The Labyrinth before it was closed by The Librarians.[1]

It is a relentless hunter when given prey, continuing to stalk the Librarians and Eve even after being shot at close range and hit with a car, and appears to have excellent tracking abilities.

Jenkins refers to Minotaurs as “nasty creatures” who hold grudges.

Learn more here.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow TV series

Minotaur. Image credit.

An unnamed Minotaur is a magical fugitive from Mallus’s realm. After Mallus was freed and his escape opened the door for other banished mystical beings, he escaped.

After Mallus gained freedom from his imprisonment, the Minotaur, along with other magical beings, escaped as well, and became displaced in the catacombs of Paris in the year 1927.

The Legends arrived at the restaurant, just in time for John Constantine to distract the Minotaur with a thurible containing an artificial musk of a female Minotaur, and for Nate to play the lute. Hemingway attempted to shoot the Minotaur, to which Sara intercepted. The monster woke from his trance, and threw Nate and John across the room, destroying the lute in the process. Sara and Nate then continued to distract the Minotaur from the civilians. Seeing Nate in a pinch, Hank picked up a guitar and started singing a James Taylor song. To Hank’s surprise, the Minotaur was lured in by the music and was successfully put to sleep. Presumably, the Minotaur was brought to the Time Bureauheadquarters and detained there.[1]

Learn more here.

Percy Jackson book series by Rick Riordan

Minotaur. Image credit

The Minotaur (real name Asterion) is a monster with the head of a bull and the body of a man. He is one of the most infamous monsters in Greek mythology and is currently reforming in Tartarus.

Percy Jackson is running to Camp Half-Blood when the Minotaur attacks him. It is described as having fur from about the belly-button on up and naked except for a pair of bright white Fruit of the Loom underwear.  

Percy manages to jump onto the Minotaur’s back, pulls off one of the its horns, and kill it by stabbing it in the side. 

Learn more here.

Disney’s Hercules

Hercules and the Minotaur. Image credit

The Minotaur is a mythical creature who appears in the 1997 Disney animated feature film Hercules and its television series. He is a large humanoid bull who resided in and endless maze within the city of Knossos, the capital of Crete.

Learn more here.

Minotaur in My Writing

Origin of the Fae: Minotaur

Though Asterion the minotaur from Crete is the most infamous of its kind, it isn’t the only one of its kind. Minotaurs roam labyrinths, mazes and other places not easily navigated – like catacombs and sewers. They can take on human form, though they retain their aggression. Minotaurs have furry human bodies and the heads of bulls. They are muscled and strong. There are males and females. Once they start hunting someone, they never stop. They have superior tracking skill and use scent to hunt by. They enjoy feasting on the flesh of humans and fae alike.

Minotaur translated to Afrikaans: Minotaurus.

See this fae in action in my writing:

Dark Fae (Origin of the Fae #7)

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Where did you first encounter the minotaur? What do you think of this bull-headed faery? Check out my Pinterest board dedicated to the subject.

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No-one writes about the fae like Ronel Janse van Vuuren.

7 thoughts on “Minotaur #folklore #AtoZChallenge”

    1. Thanks. No, they stay on the blog as-is. I do have an Origin of the Fae series of books which include the nutshell and origin of the fae along with a story illustrating the creature, and, of course, my podcast which also feature these fae. You can learn more about the books and the podcast if you click the “Enter the Realm of the Fae” tab in the menu 🙂

  1. Goodness. Whenever I think about Minotaurs now, I can’t help but think about a book called Morning Glory Milking Farm. 😬 It’s a monster romance. I have not read it…I’m scared to 🤣 but that’s where my mind, unfortunately, goes.

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