The minotaur, half bull, half man: who is he?

The Minotaur is a legendary creature coming out of Greek mythology. His body is that of a bull while his head is that of a man. The wife of King Minos, Pasiphae is said to have had an affair with a white bull that was allegedly sent by the god Poseidon. The Minotaur would then have been locked up by King Minos in the famous labyrinth that we find today in the center of Crete. Here is the fuller story of this strange creature.

The labyrinth

The famous labyrinth where the Minotaur was locked up was built by Maze, then architect and forge with exceptional talent. This winding path with multiple branches filled with pitfalls and false trails allowed no one to discover the existence of the Minotaur, because he could not escape.

The food of the Minotaur

The Minotaur will feed on human flesh for many years.Aegean, then king of Athens, is then forced to deliver to the Minotaur every nine years seven boys and seven girls in order to feed him. But Aegean has a son named Theseus who volunteers to go and kill the Minotaur.

The revenge of Theseus

The prince theseus lives in Athens and people of his people killed Androgeus who was one of the sons of Minos. In retaliation, the king had besieged the Greek capital. This is how he was able to obtain the seven young boys and girls every nine years in order to feed the Minotaur.


When the Athenians arrived in Crete, Ariane, daughter of Minos fell head over heels in love with Theseus. The latter wanting kill the minotaur in the maze, received from Ariadne a ball of thread against the promise of marrying her if he emerged victorious. This idea then emanated from Daedalus. Ariane remained outside the labyrinth and then held one end of this ball of thread. Theseus entered the labyrinth carrying the ball of thread which unwound as he advanced.

Theseus and the Minotaur

Theseus finally found himself face to face with the Minotaur and then began a fight to the death between the two beings. Theseus was the victor and everyone followed the famous breadcrumb trail to find the young Athenians still alive in the labyrinth.

Theseus and Ariadne

Following his victory against the Minotaur, Theseus took Ariadne with him, but abandoned her on the island of Naxos to resume the road to Athens and marry his sister Phèdre.

The end of Aegean

Aegeus and Theseus had established a code between them. Yes Theseus won against the Minotaur, the sails of the boats would be white, otherwise the sails would be black. Theseus forgot this detail and when Aegeus saw the black sails, he then threw himself into the sea which bears his name.

The controversies of the history of the Minotaur

While there are still references to Theseus in the story of the Minotaur throughout history, there are controversies. For example, Homer never speaks of the Minotaur in the story of Theseus, Ariadne and Minos in the Iliad. On the other hand, on period pottery and other works of ironwork, the Minotaur appears often. An amphora was found in the Cyclades dating from around 660 BC on which is depicted the fight between the Minotaur and Theseus. This fight is also represented on shield straps dating from the 7th century BC as well as on another amphora dating from the same time, also found in the Cyclades. Many references to the Minotaur then appear in ancient Greek literature such as the play “The Cretans” by Euripides which was premiered in the 5th century BC.

The Minotaur is a reference to the history of the Cretan collective imagination of the time. The island of Crete was a huge trading power and the Minoans established colonies on their trade routes in the Mediterranean world. Mycenaean Greece was influenced by Crete and the stories of Minos son of Zeus and stepfather of the Minotaur. Between 1900 and 1903, many representations of the Minotaur were brought to light on the Knossos site by the British archaeologist Arthur Evans.