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Humanities Libertexts

41: The Minotaur

  • Page ID
  • Function: Half-man, half-bull monster

    The Minotaur (which means “Minos’ bull”) was the son of Pasiphaë, the wife of Minos (the king of Crete), and a large and handsome bull. Minos had asked Poseidon for a magnificent bull to sacrifice to him and the god obliged, sending a handsome bull from the sea. However, when Minos saw the bull, he refused to sacrifice it because it was so beautiful. Poseidon, completely enraged, caused Minos’ wife, Pasiphaë, to lust after the bull. She convinced Daedalus, the famous engineer, to aid her in consummating her desire for the bull by making her a hollow wooden cow.  Pasiphaë then climbed into the cow and was able to mate with the bull. The result was a child who was half-human and half-bull. Minos then had Daedalus build a maze, called a labyrinth, to house the Minotaur.


    Theseus Slaying the Minotaur by Antoine-Louis Barye (1843) in the Baltimore Museum of Art

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