Queen Pasiphae, immortal daughter of the sun-god Helios and wife of King Minos, was cursed by Poseidon with lust for the white bull her husband had received from the god but failed to sacrifice back to him. The offspring of the queen and the bull was Asterion, apparently half man and half bull, and with a voracious appetite for human flesh. Minos apparently fed his foster-son with Athenian youths, paid in tribute at intervals as blood-payment for the death of Minos’ son Androgeos whilst in Athens.
Asterion, known as the Minotaur (‘bull of Minos’), apparently lived imprisoned within a maze, although this could also have been the maze-like palace of Knossos; its name, Labyrinth, means ‘place of the Labrys (two-headed axes)’, and the palace was decorated with these ritual weapons.
The Minoans seem to have worshipped bulls or at least seen them as sacred: Zeus abducted Europa as a bull, bull-leaping appears to have been an important ritual, and stylised bull-horns seem to have decorated the palace, as in the photograph. Whether there was a bull-headed cannibal living among the Cretans however…
Photo taken at Knossos Palace, Crete.
Comix drawn in transit!