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Theseus slays the Minotaur
The Minoan Bull Head, a famous religious artifact. Photo by Ken Redtail

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature that was half man and half bull. It dwelt in the Labyrinth, an elaborate maze constructed by King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus to hold the Minotaur. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus. It is one of the earliest examples of an anthropomorphic character in history.

The Legend of the Minotaur[edit]

Before Minos of Knossos became king of Crete he asked the Greek god Poseidon for a sign to assure him that he, and not his brother, was to receive the throne. Poseidon agreed to send a white bull on condition Minos would sacrifice the bull back to the god. Indeed, a bull of unmatched beauty came out of the sea. King Minos, after seeing it, found it so beautiful that he instead sacrificed another bull, hoping that Poseidon would not notice.

Poseidon was very angry when he realized what had been done, so he caused Minos's wife, Pasiphae, to be overcome with a fit of madness in which she fell in love with the bull. Pasiphae went to Daedalus for assistance, and Daedalus devised a way for her to satisfy her passions. He constructed a hollow wooden cow covered with cowhide for Pasiphae to hide in and allow the bull to mount her. The result of this union was the Minotaur. In some accounts, the white bull went on to become the Cretan Bull captured by Hercules for one of his labors.

The Minotaur had the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. It was a fierce creature, and Minos, after getting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. It was located under Minos' palace in Knossos.

Minos had just won a great victory over the Athenians, so he demanded that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens be sent every ninth year to be devoured by the Minotaur. When the third sacrifice came around, the Greek hero Theseus volunteered to go to slay the monster. Ariadne, Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and helped him get out of the maze by giving him a ball of thread, allowing him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur (with a magical sword Ariadne had given him) and led the other Athenians back out of the labyrinth.

Minos, angry that Theseus could escape, imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the labyrinth. They were able to escape by building wings for themselves, but Icarus famously died during the escape.

Sometimes the Minotaur is represented as a bull with a human torso instead of a head, like a bull version of the Centaur.

Minotaurs in mainstream culture/religion[edit]

  • In Dungeons & Dragons minotaurs worship the demon lord Baphomet, and whilst they mainly function as mere monsters, in the Dragonlance campaign setting, they are a reasonably civilized and cultured race.
  • The card game Magic: the Gathering features minotaurs as being both savage (the Hurloon minotaurs) and tribal yet somewhat cultured (the Talruum).
  • In the online game Shadowbane, players are able to assume the role of a minotaur, and minotaurs in general form a key role in the backstory and lore and are depicted as a full range, from the savage to the civilized.
  • In the online game Dark Age of Camelot, the minotaur was introduced as a playable race as well as a monster in an expansion.
  • In the Warhammer setting, minotaurs are a breed of beastmen chosen by the Chaos Gods to guard their temples. Minotaur champions, known as Doom Bulls' also lead armies of beastmen, mortals, and daemons.
  • A SciFi Channel original movie depicted the minotaur as a large undead bull monster, a departure from the usual image of the minotaur.
  • Ox, the on-stage persona of one of the members of the Finnish band Lordi, is described as being an undead 'man-bull', a reference to the mythical minotaur.
  • Thomas Burnett Swann's Minotaur Trilogy of fantasy novels features Silver Bells and Eunostos, the last two of their race; possessing more humanoid heads and faces than classical depictions of minotaurs, they are more like bovine versions of satyrs.

Minotaur and furry[edit]

The concept though of a half-man, half-bull, is one of the earliest examples of anthropomorphic characters, but minotaurs as a whole are quite uncommon in the furry fandom.

In furry visual novels, minotaur and bovine characters have appeared in a few instances:

  • In Minotaur Hotel the story revolves around Asterion, the minotaur from the Greek legend, in current-day Earth.
  • Killigan's Treasure features a bovine race called bovos. The protagonist, Killigan, belongs to this race.

See also[edit]


  • Plutarch, Theseus, 15—19; Diod. Sic. i. I6, iv. 61; Apollodorus iii. 1,15

External links[edit]