The minotaur is half-man, half-bull, born from the love between a woman and a bull. The woman was the wife of Minos, king of Crete, and the bull was a gift from the god Poseidon to the great king. But the mighty god of the sea asked King Minos to sacrifice the bull he had given him in his honor. The king really liked the white bull he had received from the god, so he tried to fool him by sacrificing another bull.
Poseidon finds out that he has been tricked and in order to punish the king, he makes his wife fall in love with the white bull. This way, the minotaur was born, a being born from the curse of a god, who was permanently hungry and ate people. To keep him under control, King Minos orders a labyrinth to be built near Knossos, which will keep the ferocious minotaur inside. From time to time, the king sent into the labyrinth the people captured in the wars he had waged. They ended up as food for the minotaur. For example, Aegeus, the king of Athens, who had been defeated by King Minos in the war, had to send a woman and a man each year to feed the Minotaur.
Theseus, the prince of Athens and the son of King Aegeus, decides to go to Crete and kill the Minotaur.
King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, fell in love with Theseus.
Before he entered the Labyrinth to fight the Minotaur, Ariadne gave to Theseus a ball of thread allowing him to retrace his path. This allowed Theseus to easily find the entrance to the labyrinth. In this way the expression Ariadne’s Thread was born, which refers to the way to find a solution to a problem, returning to the path you walked or leaving marks on the path you are walking, to easily find the way back.
Theseus killed the Minotaur, then he and Ariadne fled Crete, escaping her angry father.
The Palace of Knossos
The ancient site Palace of Knossos is located 5 km south of Heraklion.
Knossos is the largest Bronze Age archaeological site on Crete and has been called Europe’s oldest city.
The site of Knossos has had a very long history of human habitation, beginning with the founding of the first Neolithic settlement (7000 BC).
The palace of Knossos was the political center of the Minoan civilization and culture.
The place was abandoned after its destruction in 1375 BC which marked the end of Minoan civilization.
In The Palace of Knossos, you can visit the mythical “Labyrinth of the Minotaur“.
Cult of the Bull
Bulls were sacred in Crete and symbolized power and fertility.
In Heraklion Archaeological Museum you can see different objects representing the bull.