Roulette Checkmate

Minoan Religion and the Minotaur, A Question by F. John Kluthof Kent, Ohio

The story of Theseus and the Minotaur is one of the most interestingin Greek Mythology. Minos was the son of Europa and the king of an empire centered in Crete. Poseidon had given a wonderfully beautiful bull to Minos with the expectation that Minos would sacrifice it to him. Rather than sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, Minos kept it for himself. To punish him Poseidon had made Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, fall madly in love with the bull. Pasiphae let herself become impregnated by the bull and the resulting offspring which she bore was a monster called the Minotaur.

This monster was a human being from the waist down, but a bull from the waste up. Unlike ordinary bulls that ate grass, this one ate raw human flesh.

Minos did not kill the Minotaur when it was born. Rather he had Daedalus, a great engineer, construct a palace for him from which there was no escape. The palace contained hallways in a maze so a person entering it could go endlessly along its many halls and never get out. The palace, called the Labyrinth, was named after the ceremonial axes that the Minoans used in their religion. Each ceremonial ax, called a labris(labrus or labrys), was shaped like a butterfly on a stick. This double bit ax may have been used in a sacrifice, but it was also a common decoration.

Minos had sent Androgeus, his only son, on a state visit to Athens. While the young man was in Athens, the king of Athens, King Aegeus had sent his young guest on an exciting mission. Unfortunately the Athenian king had shown poor judgement in picking an expedition that was full of peril. They were supposed to kill a dangerous bull, but Androgeus was killed instead. Minos was furious and immediately invaded Athens and captured it. He declared that unless Athens sent seven maidens and seven young men every nine years, that he would destroy Athens. When these young people arrived in Crete they were given to the Minotaur to devour. This was done by placing the youths within the Labyrinth where they would wander until the Minotaur found them and ate them.

Theseus was a young man when he arrived in Athens just a few days before the next shipment of youth was to be made. When he heard what was going to happen he volunteered to be one of the male youths. He wanted to try to kill the Minotaur. His father agreed to let him go so he and the thirteen others were shipped to Crete. Upon arrival the youths were paraded in front of the people of Crete. Among the spectators was Ariadne, daughter of Minos and his
wife Pasiphae. She fell deeply in love with Theseus and demanded from Daedalus a way out of the Labyrinth. She sent for Theseus and told him that she would arrange his escape if he would agree to marry her and take her to Athens. He agreed and she gave him a ball of thread to fasten at the door to the Labyrinth as he went in. He fortunately found the Minotaur asleep and he fell upon him and pinned him to the ground. He then battered him with his fists. After the Minotaur died Theseus was able to find his way back to the door of the Labyrinth by following the string. He led the other youths out. Theseus took Ariadne and with the other youths boarded
the ship for Athens.

When The ship got to the island of Naxos Theseus abandoned Ariadne. Ariadne had been found by Dionysus on Naxos and Theseus could not cope with this god. Ariadne married Dionysis and Theseus and the other youths returned safely to Athens.

How does the story of Theseus and the Minotaur relate
to the destruction of Minoan Religion? Archeological evidence points to the importance of bull imagery for Minoan religion. Yet the bull appears to be associated with a feminine goddess. In view of this it seems reasonable to assume that the story of Theseus and the Minotaur relates to the destruction of the goddess centered culture of Crete with a more god (Zeus) dominated religion of the mainland.

Robert Graves has this to say in his White Goddess on p. 93:
“This Corona Borealis, which is also called the ‘the Cretan Crown’,
was in ancient times sacred to a Cretan Goddess, wife to the God Dionysus, and according to this Scholiast the mother of–that is, worshipped by–Staphylus, Thoas. Oenopion, Tauropolus and others. These men were the eponymous ancestors of Pelasfo-Thracian clans or tribes settled in the Aegean islands of Chios and Lemnos, on the Thracian Cheronese, and in the Crimea, and
culturally connected with the North-Western Europe. The Goddess was Ariadne, (‘Most Holy’,) alias Alpheta–alpha and eta being the
first and last letters of her name. She was the daughter, or younger self, of the ancient Cretan Moon-Goddess Pasiphae, ‘She who shines for all’, and the Greeks made her a sister of their ancient vine-hero Deucalion, who survived the Great Flood. Aridne,…, was and orgiastic goddess, and it is evident from the legends of Lemnos, Chios, the Chersonese and the Crimea, that male human sacrifice was an integral part of her worship, ….”

The mother of Minos, Europa, was raped by Zeus in the form of a bull. The wife of Minos, Pasiphae, fell in love with the bull from Posieidon and was impregnated. The result was the child monster Minotaur. Unlike most bulls which are vegetarian, this bull devoured children. Most monster births in Greece were exposed and left to die, but this one was not. The reason seems to be that the Minotaur was for the Cretans, a god formed like the gods of the ancient Egyptians with a human body and an animal head. We get an
unfavorable view of the Minotaur only because we see him through Greek eyes. The maze of the Labyrinth may be more figurative that literal. Robert Graves has this to say of the activity in the Labyrinth: (White Goddess, p. 360)

“It seems, then, that in the pesach a bull-cult had been
superimposed on a partridge cult; and that the Minotaur to whom youths and maidens (from Athens and elsewhere) were sacrificed had once represented the decoy partridge in the middle of a brushwood maze, towards which the others were lured for their death dance. He was, in fact, the centre of a ritual performance, originally honoring the Moon-goddess, the lascivious hen-partridge, who at Athens and in parts of Crete was the mother and lover
of the Sun-hero Talus. But the dance of the hobbling cock-partridge was later transformed into one honoring the Moon-goddess Pasiphae, the cow in heat, mother and lover of the Sun-hero, the bull-headed Minos. Thus the spirally-danced Troy-game (called the ‘Crane Dance’ in Delos because it was adapted there to the cult of the Moon-goddess as Crane) had the same origin as the pesach. The case is proved by Homer who wrote:

Daedalus in Cnossos one contrived
A dancing-floor for fair-haired Ariadne

–a verse which the scholiast explains as referring to the Labyrinth dance; and by Lucian who in his Concerning the Dance, a mine of mythological tradition, gives as the subjects of Cretan dances: ‘the myths of Europa, Pasiphae, the two bulls, the Labyrinth, Ariadne, Phaedra [daughter of Pasiphae], Androgeuos [son of Minos], Icarus, Glaucus [raised aby Aesculapius from the dead], the magic of Polyidus, and of Talus the bronze man who did his sentry
round in Crete.’….”

The actors in this drama seem similar to those of the Trojan war. Paris had to decide between Hera(honor), Aphrodite(love), and Athena(reason). He chose love, with the result that his society was destroyed. Athena triumphs only after many passionate errors and Odysseus returns home. Athena ultimately triumphs with Theseus too, but only after a great struggle. Killing the Minotaur allows him to choose. At first he chooses Ariadne(love), but she doesn’t work out. Then he tries Phedra(a parallel with Hera is suggested
but not resolved). Finally Athena wins out, but only in the sense that she is worshiped as primary by Athens after Theseus. Athena was present in Crete early on; Athena came to Athens at the time of Theseus; but she plays no part in the Minotaur story. The goddess is primary in Minoan religion and this primacy was defeated at the time of Theseus by the heirachy of Zeus, yet the goddess came from Crete, not as Aphrodite, Not as Artemis or Hera, but as Athena.

The art and archeology of ancient Crete suggests that the religion and life of the Minoan civilization was quite different from that of classical Greece. Yet, though the old religion was destroyed, some elements were preserved. But what was changed was not necessarily for the better. Empedocles writes about a golden age in the following quote:

                   Nor unto them
Was any Ares god, nor Kydoimos,
Nor Zeus, the king of gods, nor Kronos, nor
Poseidon then, but only Kypris queen...
Whom they with holy gifts were wont to appease,
With painted images of living things,
With costly unguents of rich fragrancy,
With gentle sacrifice of taintless myrr,
Wit redolent fumes of frankincense, of old
Pouring libations out upon the ground
Of yellow honey; not then with unmixed blood
Of many bulls was ever an altar stained;
But among men 'twas sacriledge most vile
To reave of life and eat the goodly limbs.
(Fragment 128, The Fragments of Empedocles, Translated into English verse by William Ellery Leonard.)

This suggests that ancient Crete might have been a golden
age, and we should know more about it.

Some references in the Odyssey may bear on this question. In the Odyssey there are at least two references to the use of wands. Circe uses a wand to transform men into pigs. It is interesting to note that Circe has the classic characteristics of a witch: she uses potions, and a wand. When Odysseus finally arrives in Ithaca, Athena uses a wand to transform him into an old man. The wand relates quite well to the labris. According to Marija Gimbutas, in her book “The Language of the Goddess” the labris is the image of a butterfly on a stick. The butterfly is a powerful symbol of transformation. This is consistent with the use of the wand in the Odyssey, because, in both cases the use is to transform. Athena is also associated with snakes, so there is a possible connection with the snake goddess of Crete, but more research could be done in this area. The aegis is a symbol of Athena that could also relate. The word comes from the Greek word from goatskin, but it is a shield that provides protection. There is a question as to whether the protection provided is real or magic. Odysseus is given a veil imperishable by a daughter of Cadmus,
Leucothea, which seems to provide this type of magical protection.

And what is to be made of this: “Then Athene came nigh him in the guise of a young man, …the herdsman of a flock…, and a javelin in her
hands. …and straightway she changed to the semblance of a woman, fair and tall, …Pallas Athene, daughter of Zeus, who am always by thee and guard thee in all adventures. …But do thou harden thy heart, for so it must be, …but in silence endure much sorrow, submitting to the despite of men. …Therewith Athene touched him with her wand. His fair flesh she withered on his supple limbs and made waste his yellow hair from off his head.

This passage summarizes the part of the Odyssey where Athena uses a wand on Odysseus. It also shows athena changing from a man, with manly symbols (the javelin) to a woman with womanly symbols (the wand). This seems the exact opposite of the way things were going in religion at the time. Some dates might put this in context:

  • 1450 bce – The destruction of Thera by volcano and perhaps the Minoan culture.
  • Also the time of Jason, Hercules, Theseus, and Atalanta.
  • 1250 bce – The time of the Trojan war.
  • 750 bce – The time of Homer
  • 450 bce – The time of Pericles
  • Before 1450 religion was lead by a Goddess
  • After 450 bce religion was lead by a God, Zeus at first, and then just God.
  • Between 1450 bce tnd 750 the gods and godesses work together.

In the language of the goddess the butterfly is the symbol of change.
Many of the seals of the minoan culture represent the goddess with the head of an insect. One even has the goddess with the head of a bee, the horns of a bull, an the wings of a butterfly overhead. The iliad was written some 500 years after the event described. The culture had changed to such an extent that the poets did not understand what they were describing. In some cases translators assume the imagery of classical Greece. So one translator
describes Athena’s helmet as having 4 plates and a double crest. This suggests the Corinthian helmet that she wears in classical imagery. Another translator comes up with fronted with four knobs and forked with twin horns. This latter better describes the crown of the goddess from Crete, than it does a helmet. It is important that nothing that Homer describes of Athena conflicts with the dress of a goddess in Crete. In book 5 Athena is described as letting fall her supple robe … rich brocade that she stiched herself. This is a consistent action and appearance that would apply to the skirts worn by goddesses on the Cretan seals. In book 3 Aphrodite visits Helen. Helen recognises her by her long neck and smooth, full breasts. One of the peculiarities of the Cretan dress was that women, especially in the context of religion, wore full skirts that exposed the breasts. Both these verbal images are consistent
with this dress of the goddesses.

In the book “Minoan and Mycenaean Art”, by Reynold Higgins (Oxford University Press, 1981, isbn 0-19-520256-2) Athena is described as the recipient of votive double axes. One of the rings pictured in the book contain the image of a figure in the sky which holds a figure eight shield and a spear. This image is from 1400 bce.

In the archeology of Crete there are no pictures of Minotaurs. There are pictures of bulls, and many more symbols of bull horns. What is most remarkable is the pictures of bull leaping. Could this be the dance that occured in the Labyrinth? This was a very dangerous sport, and it is possible that the scrificial victims were given to perform it. If they were gored by the bull then they were considered sacrificed. Modern bull-fighting, with all its pomp and ceremony, seems to be the heir of the Minoan bull leaping. The sacrificial victims could have been trapped by the excitement as well.

Aphrodite seems to have played more a role in Theseus’ victory, but when Theseus got back to Athens he instituted festivals and worship for Athena. Athena is a common image in art about Theseus and the Minotaur, while Theseus got the clue of the thread from Aphrodite and Dedalus.

Pictures

Resources

  • A web page with more info on the Minoan Civiliztion is available at:
    Click here
  • A web page on “The Ritual of the Labyrinth” is available at:
    Click here
  • A web page on the clue to the Labyrinth is at:
    Click here.

Minoan Religion and the Minotaur, A question

Questions and Answers

Question: What are votive offerings?

Answer: Votive offerings are gifts to a deity with the intention of
satisfying a vow or establishing one. It could be either a bribe to the
deity or a reward for some deed in the past by the deity.

Question: What does “Minos ” mean?

Answer: Minos was the legendary king of Crete who lived around 1500 BCE. He gave his name to the Minoan culture. Ariadne was Minos’ daughter. The wife of Minos, Pasiphae, gave birth to the Minotaur, a monster that was half bull and half human. Minos was the son of Europa. Minos also became one of the three judges in the underworld that decided a soul’s future, torment or Elysian Fields. “Minos” may also be a Minoan word for king.

Question: Is this a reliable website?

Answer: I will give you the sources for anything you find here and you can decide for yourself. In general, reliability depends on the truth of statements compared to the reality of the situation. Today we are a bit remote from the reality of women in the art of ancient Greece and so truth is not easy to establish. But you must consider the ideas that are out there, and you must be prepared for the fact that verification may involve a lot of very dirty digging.

Question: Was Minos a persons name or was it a hereditary name given to the kings?

Answer: Minos was definitely a person, but his name may have attached to the deeds of more than one person.

Question: A picture of pasiphae and minutaur.

Answer:

Question: is it a girl?

Answer: The minotaur is not a girl. Ariadne is a girl.

Question: what was the belief system?

Answer: We are not sure of the belief system of the Minoans because we cannot read their writing. We do know that it was quite different from classical Greece because of the wide differences in Art and Architecture. The story of the Minotaur suggests that the Minoans tried to impose their beliefs on the mainland and they
were repelled. The fact that Minos does not appear in the minotaur myth is odd. Perhaps the Minotaur represents him. Both Pasiphae, his wife, and Ariadne, his daughter, seem to be goddesses. The fact that Ariadne died on the trip to Athens suggests that her worship died. It does seem as though goddess worship was more important in Crete than on the mainland. It also seems as though the life of the citizen was almost completely organized by religion down to the most minute detail. Almost every motion was a ritual to this deity or that.

Question: Who were some of the Minoan god, how were they worshiped?

Answer: We do not know the names of any Minoan gods because we cannot translate their language. Both Athena and Aphrodite may have come from Crete to the Greek mainland. Aphrodite is believed to be originally from Phonecia and Athena from North Africa. Neither goddess has a name that is translatable into Greek. It is possible, from what we know, that these goddesses were the gods of Crete. From the images of this ancient culture we know that there were epiphanies and those that experienced them became priests or
priestesses, there were sacrifices, processions, libations, and dancing.

Question: Did Theseus really use a ball of string to find his way in & out of the labyrinth?

Answer: Maybe. Truth applied to mythology is strange. If we ask for
confirmation, we can observe the many images from classical Greek times. And of course this is what the written stories say. But
what is contemporary? No maze has been found that would need to be escaped. What has been found is a dance floor referred to as a labyrinth. The word ‘labyrinth’ seems to derive from the name for the sacred object called a labrys. The labrys looks like a double-bit axe. It could have been used as an axe, but highly ornamented examples have been found which would not have been so used. It also looks like a butterfly on a stick. Because the butterfly changes from a caterpillar it is a common symbol of transformation. As this
is a common theme of a goddess, the labrys is very likely a symbol of some goddess worship. The labyrinth was likely a dance floor where dances were performed as a worship to the Minoan goddess.

The maze that Theseus encountered may have been more spiritual than literal. It could have represented the Minoan religion rather than a physical structure. What, then was the thread? Could it have been the thread of an argument? The key to the escape of Theseus was the love of Ariadne. Was this the thread? Frazer thinks that the young victims sent to Minos were shut up in a bronze statue and roasted in a fire. How was a thread involved there? Robert Graves thinks that the dance was orgiastic and the victims were initiated into sex. Perhaps things were so nice they did not want to go home, because, like the lotus eaters, they just forgot home. The murals on bull leaping have suggested that the victims were made to endure this practice. Perhaps the thread allowed the bull to be tripped. At any rate you see that there are many interpretations to the story. At this point nothing seems certain.

Question: How come in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur, Theseus kills the minotaur and then thats pretty much the end of the Minotaur story? wouldn’t you think it would have mated with any of the sacrificed women to produce offspring?

Answer: The implication is that the Minotaur ate the victims and did not mate with them. The sea monster that Perseus slayed was about to eat Andromeda. Hercules also rescued a damsel about to be devoured. Devouring damsels seemed to be a thing that monsters did. The Minotaur may have devoured young men as well. Even so, this is not the end of the story. Ariadne left with Theseus. Ariadne could have mated with the Minotaur, but did not. Instead she left,
but she did not make it back to Athens. The story does not talk about Athena, but pictures of Theseus and the Minotaur often include Athena. Athena does get back to Athens with Theseus. And what about Aphrodite? She helped by making Ariadne fall in love with Theseus. She was also the goddess of ships and navigation and helped the ships stay on course. She also went back to Athens with Theseus. The symbol of the Minoan religion was dead, but the
goddesses of the Minoan religion went to Athens with Theseus.

Question: How did the Minotaur find its way into the minos myth?

Answer: The Bull was the symbol of goddess worship in the Minoan culture. The goddess and the bull appeared together. The natural result of the union of these two symbols is a man-bull, the Minotaur.

Question: Can you tell me more about Glaucus and Polyidus. What is the significance of the mulberry tree question? Is it symbolic? Can you give me any other references to the Glaucus myth? Many thanks.

Answer: Edith Hamilton says: “The wise seer of Ephyre (Corinth), Polyidus to whom he (Bellerophon) told his desperate desire (to catch and tame Pegasus), advised him to go to Athena’s temple and sleep there.” She also says that Glaucus is the father of Bellerophon.

Euchenor, the son of Polyidus the prophet, a brave man and wealthy, whose home was in Corinth, was killed by Paris at Troy.

This follows from the Iliad (Book VI)

Then Glaucus son of Hippolochus, and the son of Tydeus went into the open space between the hosts to fight in single combat. When they were close up to one another Diomedes of the loud war-cry was the first to speak. “Who, my good sir,” said he, “who are you among men? I have never seen you in battle until now, but you are daring beyond all others if you abide my onset. Woe to those fathers whose sons face my might. If, however, you are one of the immortals and have come down from heaven, I will not fight you; for even valiant Lycurgus, son of Dryas, did not live long when he took to fighting with the gods.He it was that drove the nursing women who were in charge of frenzied Bacchus through the land of Nysa, and they flung their thyrsi on the ground as murderous Lycurgus beat them with his oxgoad. Bacchus himself plunged terror-stricken into the sea, and Thetis took him to her bosom to comfort him, for he was scared by the fury with which the man reviled him. Thereon the gods who live at ease were angry with Lycurgus and the son of Saturn struck him blind, nor did he live much longer after he had become hateful to the immortals. Therefore I will not fight with the blessed gods; but if you are of them that eat the fruit of the ground, draw near and meet your doom.”

And the son of Hippolochus answered, son of Tydeus, why ask me of my lineage? Men come and go as leaves year by year upon the trees.
Those of autumn the wind sheds upon the ground, but when spring
returns the forest buds forth with fresh vines. Even so is it with the
generations of mankind, the new spring up as the old are passing away. If, then, you would learn my descent, it is one that is well known to many. There is a city in the heart of Argos, pasture land of
horses, called Ephyra, where Sisyphus lived, who was the craftiest
of all mankind. He was the son of Aeolus, and had a son named Glaucus, who was father to Bellerophon, whom heaven endowed with the most surpassing comeliness and beauty. But Proetus devised his ruin, and being stronger than he, drove him from the land of the Argives, over which Jove had made him ruler. For Antea, wife of Proetus, lusted after him, and would have had him lie with her in secret; but Bellerophon was an honourable man and would not, so she told lies about him to Proteus. ‘Proetus,’ said she, ‘kill Bellerophon or die, for he would have had converse with me against my will.’ The king was angered, but shrank from killing Bellerophon, so he sent him to Lycia with lying letters of introduction, written on a folded tablet, and containing much ill against the bearer. He bade
Bellerophon show these letters to his father-in-law, to the end that
he might thus perish; Bellerophon therefore went to Lycia, and the
gods convoyed him safely.

“When he reached the river Xanthus, which is in Lycia, the king
received him with all goodwill, feasted him nine days, and killed nine
heifers in his honour, but when rosy-fingered morning appeared upon the tenth day, he questioned him and desired to see the letter from his son-in-law Proetus. When he had received the wicked letter he first commanded Bellerophon to kill that savage monster, the Chimaera, who was not a human being, but a goddess, for she had the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and she breathed forth flames of fire; but Bellerophon slew her, for he was guided by signs from heaven. He next fought the far-famed Solymi, and this, he said, was the hardest of all his battles.
Thirdly, he killed the Amazons, women who were the peers of men, and as he was returning thence the king devised yet another plan for his destruction; he picked the bravest warriors in all Lycia, and placed them in ambuscade, but not a man ever came back, for Bellerophon killed every one of them. Then the king knew that he must be the valiant offspring of a god, so he kept him in Lycia, gave him his daughter in marriage, and made him of equal honour in the kingdom with himself; and the Lycians gave him a piece of land, the best in all the country, fair with vineyards and tilled fields, to have and to hold.

“The king’s daughter bore Bellerophon three children, Isander,
Hippolochus, and Laodameia. Jove, the lord of counsel, lay with
Laodameia, and she bore him noble Sarpedon; but when Bellerophon came to be hated by all the gods, he wandered all desolate and dismayed upon the Alean plain, gnawing at his own heart, and shunning the path of man. Mars, insatiate of battle, killed his son Isander while he was fighting the Solymi; his daughter was killed by Diana of the golden reins, for she was angered with her; but
Hippolochus was father to myself, and when he sent me to Troy he urged me again and again to fight ever among the foremost and outvie my peers, so as not to shame the blood of my fathers who were the noblest in Ephyra and in all Lycia. This, then, is the descent I claim.”

Thus did he speak, and the heart of Diomed was glad. He planted
his spear in the ground, and spoke to him with friendly words. “Then,” he said, you are an old friend of my father’s house. Great Oeneus once entertained Bellerophon for twenty days, and the two exchanged presents. Oeneus gave a belt rich with purple, and Bellerophon a double cup, which I left at home when I set out for Troy. I do not remember Tydeus, for he was taken from us while I was yet a child, when the army of the Achaeans was cut to pieces before Thebes. Henceforth, however, I must be your host in middle Argos, and you mine in Lycia, if I should ever go there; let us avoid one another’s spears even during a general engagement; there are many noble Trojans and allies whom I can kill, if I overtake them and heaven delivers them into my hand; so again with yourself, there are many Achaeans whose lives you may take if you can; we two, then, will exchange armour, that all present may know of the old ties that subsist between us.”

With these words they sprang from their chariots, grasped one
another’s hands, and plighted friendship. But the son of Saturn made
Glaucus take leave of his wits, for he exchanged golden armour for
bronze, the worth of a hundred head of cattle for the worth of nine.”

The quote mentioned by Apollodorus seems more relevant:
Click here

Question: What role did double axes, or labyrs, play in Minoan religion?

Answer: This is believed to be the symbol of their religion, much as the cross is the symbol of Christianity. They may have been used for sacrifice but I doubt it. More likely is the interpretation of a Labrys as a butterfly on a stick. The butterfly is a symbol of transformation. This seems to be the ancestor of a fairy’s wand.

Question: how did theseus kill the minotaur

Answer: He battered him to death with his fists. He had no other weapon.

Question: picture of minotaur

Answer: Click here

Question: who are the human religious figure s in Minoan religion?

Answer: The names of the deities of the Minoan religion have not been made available to us. Of the writings that has come to us from that culture only some has been translated. Very little literature has been found and the names of the gods and goddesses remain a mystery. But there is a suggestion that some of the deities of later Greece came from the Minoans. Athena and Aphrodite are strong suspects. Goddesses seem to have been more important
in the Minoan Religion, but gods were also present. Some of the names that have come to us in mythology may be the names of deities or humans; we cannot tell at this time. Names associated with Minoan mythology include: Acacallis, Androgeus, Ariadne, Britomartis, Catreus, Daedalus, Europa, Glaucus, Minos, Nisus, Pasiphae, Phaedra, Procris, Rhadamanthys, Sarpedon, Scylla,
Talos.

Question: what role did the human religious figures in Minoan religion play in their society?

Answer: Religion and Culture was tightly intgrated in the Minoan society. Political leaders were also religious leaders. Activities were well-defined by religious taboos, rituals, and festivals. Leaders performed rituals such as libations, processions, dances, and sacrifice. Some may have performed as the god or goddess in the rituals. Divination was also performed by the leaders.

Question: do the names of the characters mean anything special?

Answer: Often this is the case. But the translation of the Minoan language is not clear enough to provide this in most cases. ‘Minos’ might be a title, for example. But ‘Dedalus’ has an adjectival form that is often applied to well-crafted items.

Question: what was the double headed ax used for?

Answer: The double-headed ax, or labris, was a symbol mainly and was often not used. Its shape like a butterfly suggests that it may have been a symbol of transformation. It was often displayed on altars and temples. It may also have been used for killing victims during sacrifice. Later it is pictured as a weapon of war. The fabled Amazons often used such an ax as a weapon of war.

Question: ARE YOU HORNEY?

Answer: This is a vulgar reference to the erected state of a male penis when the male becomes sexually excited. But it is also a reference to the horns that were an important part of the religious symbology of the Minoan culture. They observed that the physical shape of the female vagina is in the shape of a bull’s head. Thus, for the Minoans hornyness is a female symbol, while for us it is a male symbol.

Question: innana’s descent into underworld

Answer: See:
Click here

Another article is at:
Click here

Question: what was the Greek crane goddess worshipped for

Answer: The crane was sacred to Athena, the goddess of wisdom. Cranes were associated with the alphabet, an important component of wisdom. They were also used in the process of divination, when the future was fortold.

Question: You are animal?

Answer: Minos was a king or a series of kings of ancient Crete.

Question: Relationship to the Apis Bull rituals of Egypt?

Answer: The Apis Bull is of historic Egypt while Minos is prehistoric.
There is much of Crete that came out of Egypt, but the specifics in this case escape me. It is possible that they had a common ancestor.

Question: i need a picture of the minotaur by itself

Answer: Click here

Question: what archeological evidence can be found to support the myth of theseus and the minotaur

Answer: Many illustrations of the myth have been found in the art of ancient Greece, but the archeology of Crete provides little support. Homer only mentions a dance floor in Crete and the Palaces of Crete did contain a large area like a dance floor. The archeology of Crete does support the importance of the bull as a religious image to the Minoans, but no minotaurs have been found in ancient Crete. I know of no archeological evidence for the existence of Theseus.

Question: can i have any other picture without Theseus and Minotauron a vase

Answer: Minos coin

Question: Any pictures of evidence

Answer:

Question: compare stories of the minotaur to real-life knossos

Answer: Crete may have demanded tribute from Athens because of its superior naval power. Theseus may have gone to Crete with an army and a fleet. He may have sacked Knossos with his army. When he did he may have destroyed their religion. The Minotaur seems to be a symbol for the Minoan religion. The Minoans may have given up their religion because of its demands of ritual and sacrifice. He did not leave empty handed. He took Ariadne. Ariadne was probably a goddess rather than a princess. She seems to have been Athena in disguise. Her death on the island of Naxos was merely the revealing
of the true goddess and the removal of the disguise. After Theseus returned to Athens he introduced the worship of Athena and she eventually became the patron goddess of the city.

Question: What was the minotaur’s name?

Answer: Minotaur.

Question: what was the minotaur’s real name?

Answer: Minotaur. Notice the oddity of the name, though. ‘Minotaur’ is made from the words ‘Minos’ and ‘Taurus’ or bull. The father of the Minotaur was a bull but the mother was the wife of Minos, Pasiphae. The bull came from the god Poseidon to Minos. It was not until Sir Arthur Evans excavated Knossos on Crete that the importance of the bull for Minoan religion was realized. Yet the bull is a feminine symbol rather than a masculine one. This comes from the resemblance of the head of the bull to the vagina of the female. For this reason the Minotaur seems to be a symbol of the Minoan
religion and its overthrow by Theseus. But Minos is prominant in its name even though the bull would more likely be related to Pasiphae, the queen, than Minos the king.

Question: what did the minoans use their religion for

Answer: Everything in their lives was organized by their religion.

Question: What is the importance of the minotaur in the minoan culture?

Answer: The minotaur was an idea created by the archaic Greeks but it does not appear to be known to the minoans.

Question: Ineed a picture of Theseus

Answer: The Greeks of the classical period thought he looked like:

Theseus
 but he probably looked more like:
Warrior Vase detail

Question: labrys

Answer: A labrys was a decorative two bladed ax that was a symbol of the Minoan worship. The labyrinth was named after it.

Question: Do they have any actual proof that the Minotaur actually existed?

Answer: References to the Minotaur are common enough in classical Greece, but neither Homer nor Hesiod mention him.

Dates on images of the Minotaur:

  • Coin 425-360 BCE
  • Harvard 1960.312 540 – 530 BCE
  • Harvard 1963.69 550 – 530 BCE
  • Risd 25.083 550 – 530 BCE
  • Malibu 85.AE.376 550 BCE
  • Malibu 86.AE.60 550 – 540 BCE
  • Malibu 86.AE.75 530 BCE
  • Philadelphia MS4833 550 525 BCE
  • Louvre G 7l (inv. no. Campana 923) 510 – 500 BCE
  • Tampa 86.36 ca. 490 B.C. – 480 B.C.
  • Toledo 1958.70 550 BCE
  • Wuerzburg L 248 540 BCE

The earliest info on the Minotaur is on vases from around 550 BCE. It seems
to be a popular image. This is just after Cyrus founded the Persian empire in
559 BCE.

But Homer does mention other characters in the Minotaur tale:
“Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another’s
wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well
woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with
garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by
silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with
merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and
making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes
they would go all in line with one another, and much people was
gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to
them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in
the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.” (Iliad, Book XVIII)

Also in the Iliad (Book XIII) Idomeneus says: “Jove first begot Minos
chief ruler in Crete, and Minos in his turn begot a son, noble Deucalion; Deucalion begot me to be a ruler over many men in Crete…”

In the Odyssey (Book XI) Odysseus says: “…I saw, and fair Ariadne,
the daughter of wizard Minos, whom Theseus on a time was
bearing from Crete to the hill of sacred Athens, yet had he no joy of her; for Artemis slew her ere that in sea-girt Dia, by reason of the witness of Dionysus.”

In the Odyssey (Book XIX) Odysseus says: “There is a land called
Crete in the midst of the wine-dark sea, a fair land and a rich, begirt with water, and therein are many men innumerable, and ninety cities. And all have not the same speech, but there is confusion of
tongues; there dwell Achaeans and there too Cretans of Crete, high of heart, and Cydonians there and Dorians of waving plumes and goodly Pelasgians. And among these cities is the mighty city Cnosus, wherein Minos when he was nine years old began to rule, he who held converse with great Zeus, and was the father of my father, even of Deucalion, high of heart.

Hesiod: “(ll. 947-949) And golden-haired Dionysus made brown-haired Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, his buxom wife: and the son of Cronos made her deathless and unageing for him.”

Question: why does pericles melmet have eyes?

Answer: A statue of Pericles is at:

Click here

A soldier with a helmet in battle is at:

Click here

In battle the helmet was pulled down over the hear and the eye holes allowed the soldier to see. When the soldier was not in battle he pulled the hemet up and back revealing his who face. The eye holes sat on top of the head. This later way is the way Pericles is wearing his helmet.

Question: what did the minotaur do in the labyrinth?

Answer: All the myth says is that when he found one of the children he atethat child.

Question: Why does labyrinth also mean double ax

Answer: Homer does not talk about a maze in Crete. Rather he says:
“Furthermore he wrought a green, like that which Daedalus once made in Cnossus for lovely Ariadne. Hereon there danced youths and maidens whom all would woo, with their hands on one another’s
wrists. The maidens wore robes of light linen, and the youths well
woven shirts that were slightly oiled. The girls were crowned with
garlands, while the young men had daggers of gold that hung by
silver baldrics; sometimes they would dance deftly in a ring with
merry twinkling feet, as it were a potter sitting at his work and
making trial of his wheel to see whether it will run, and sometimes
they would go all in line with one another, and much people was
gathered joyously about the green. There was a bard also to sing to
them and play his lyre, while two tumblers went about performing in
the midst of them when the man struck up with his tune.” (Iliad, Book XVIII)

When the Acheologists dug up the palaces of ancient Crete what they found was not a maze, but a dance floor. This floor was decorated with the double axes. So originally a labyrinth was a dance floor decorated with labrys (double axes). How it came to mean maze has not been fully explained. It is believed that the word ‘labryrinth’ means place of the double ax. If the double ax is a symbol for the religion of the Minoans then the word actuall means temple where the double ax is displayed.

Question: Is there a symbol for the god Dionysis

Answer: There are many symbols for the god Dionysos. He can be associated with grape leaves and vines, ivy, pine cones, goats and goat skins, and various phallic symbols.

Question: Bellerophon

Answer: Bellerophon is an ancient hero discussed in the Iliad of Homer.

Question: I need to find pictures of bellerophon

Answer: Bellerophon on Pegasos

Question: what is the “snake goddess”?

Answer: In the excavations of the Minoan culture a number of statues have been found of women holding snakes. Because we lack the names of the Minoan goddesses these are referred to as the snake goddess. But Athena was involved with snakes and Athena came from Crete so the goodess could be an older form of Athena. A picture of this goddess follows: Click Here

Question: minoans favorite sport

Answer: We call it bull leaping, but it may have been more like the bull fights that are so common in the Mediterranean region.

Question: where can i find a picture of minos

Answer: Click here

Answer: I found no ancient Greek pictures but here are others:

Question: What are some of the main features of the Minoan religion?

Answer: Religion was an intense part of daily life. Rituals and festivals seemed to occupy most activity time. Goddesses seemed to have a more important role in the Minoan religion.

Question: How has the Minoan labris come to be a symbol for modern lesbianism?

Answer: I did not know it was. But one of the problems for the lesbian is male domination. This raises strong prejudice that keeps them from good jobs and opportunities. Naturally they feel they would be better off in a society controlled by women. The Minoan society may have been controlled by women so they are naturally attracted to it. Of course they are attracted to the Amazons for this reason. It should be noted that the ax was a favorite weapon of the Amazons.

Question: what is the symbolic meaning of the minotaur

Answer: The upper bull part probably refers to the minoan religion since a bull was an important symbol of that religion. The fact that it is half-man and half-bull makes it like the deities of the Egyptian religion. What Theseus seems to have done is kill the Minoan religion by killing the Minotaur. That he killed it single handed suggests that he alone was responsible for the destruction of the religion. But he did not destroy it entirely. What he did was place Zeus as the head of the religion and Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite
as subserviant to Zeus. In the Minoan religion, Hera may have been the highest deity. He then transported the three goddesses back to Athens where Athena became the patron of that city. In Homer the labyrinth was a dance floor. When Theseus defeated the Minotaur the children from Athens celebrated by dancing the crane dance. Is it possible that Theseus defeated the Minoan religion by winning
some kind of dance contest? Maybe he had to dance with a bull?

Question: was the minotaur real or just a myth?

Answer: It was believed by the ancient Greeks to be real. Unfortunately we do not know what it really was. I label anything a myth which someone else believes but I do not. The Christian Bible is a myth to a Bhuddist. These stories get credibility only if there is other evidence, for example the results of an archaeological dig. The amazing thing is the frequency of bull images coming to us from the Minoan culture. It seems like the Minotaur might be an image of the Minoan religion. We know that the Minoan religion was real so does that make the Minotaur real?

Question: how many different gods were there?

Answer: There were thousands of gods and goddesses in the ancient greek religion.

Question: can you show a picture of the labrys?

Answer: Click here

Question: what did the prupose of bull leaping serve?

Answer: Bull leaping seems to have been a combination of a religious exercise and a public spectacle. Deaths would have been considered sacrifices to the gods. Successful participants would have been considered heroes.

Question: I need pictures of Bellerophon.

Answer: Click here

Question: women in minoan religion

Answer: Many of the figurative art pieces from the minoan culture contain women. The art appears religious in nature.

Question: minoan goddesses?

Answer: There were Minoan goddesses, but we do not know their names. But it is possible that Athena, Hera, and Aphrodite are among them. Pasiphae and Ariadne are also likely.

Question: who is phedra

Answer: Phaedra was a daughter of Minos who became a wife of Theseus.

Question: Could the myth of Pasiphae, her mating with the sacred bull & the killing of her son, the Minotaur by the foreign greek hero
Theseus be interpreted as a symbolic view of the real facts that occured at that time in W Mediterranean area i.e. invasion of the pastorals late neolithic cultures & religion by the latest indo-european waves (Dorians?) & imposing a new religious backround ?

Answer: Yes. But the details need to be made plain.

Question: remains of the labyrinth

Answer: None have been identified. The palace at Knossos seems labyrinthine but this would involve a different meaning. But Homer implies a dance floor rather than a maze. The court at Knossos would qualify for this.

Question: Information on the bull leaping fresco

Answer: The fresco is illustrated at:
Click here

A bibliography is located at: Click here

When Athur Evans discovered this fresco he made immediate connections to the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. The bull in the fresco was connected to the symbol of the bull for the Minoan religion. The Minotaur then devours youth by goring them in this obviously dangerous activity. This seems a more reasonable activity for the Minotaur than that suggested by the myth. The maze then becomes the religion that requires this practice. The Minoans were
seen to encourage this sport because the playful attitude of the youth appears to dominate the bull in the same way that the Minoans needed to dominate nature. The fact that boys and girls were sent From Athens is reinforced by the observation that Minoan art convention seems to indicate that both boys and girls participate, because red symbolizes male and white female. The fresco is very original because it is so dynamic compared to the art of the archaic greeks.

Question: how is bull fighting similar/different to minoan bull leaping

Answer: The pleasure of bull-fighting seems to be the ultimate feeling of dominance over the bull. This is true of Minoan as well as other forms. The bull leapers also needed the same grace and poise to keep them alive that the modern bull-fighters take pride in. Th modern forms seem easier on the humans and harder on the bull.

Question: What is the significance of the name “Asterios”, apart from Minos’ “father”? A lot of representations of the Minotaur show him covered in strars, why?

Answer: A number of clarifications are needed here. Zeus is Minos’
father. “Asterios” is another name for the minotaur. There are no stars on any image of the Minotaur produced by the ancient Greeks that I know of. The Perseus site shows none. You will need to provide references to the images you are talking about. Some information about this question may be addressed by: The Ritual of the Labyrinth.

Question: As this relates to the real historical time line, when would you date the mythical story of Theseus vs. the Minotaur?

Answer: The destruction of Troy is dated to 1184 BCE. It lasted for
ten years so it started in 1194 BCE. Helen was in Troy 9 years before she was abducted, so she was abduced in 1203 BCE, She was raped by Theseus about 6 years before this when she was about 13 in 1209 BCE. Theseus was about 40 at the time. Theseus was a young man of about 18 when he battled the minotaur which would them have been about 1231 BCE. Archeology suggests a date for the destruction of Troy of about 1220 BCE so there is quite a bit of variability here.

Question: In regards to my question on the dating of the the myth of
Theseus, I am left confused. If Minos was a Minoan ruler that was plausibly the last before the fall of a Minoan empire of sorts, then wouldn’t the date you suggest, 1220 BC, place him in the Late Minoan period, when Crete is allready under Mycenean control (Greek control) anyways? If the myth tells of the fall of the religion, then it makes sense to me, but not if it represents a fall or submission to the Myceneans. Why would you not place the date
around the 15-1400’s BCE?

Answer: Greek myth only allows the existence of the Minoan civilization one generation. Zeus raped Europa, the mother of Crete, and she gave birth to Minos. But by the time of the Trojan war Minos, and his entire civilization is gone. It is no wonder that the finding of the Minoan civilization by Arthur Evans was such a surprize. One possibility is that Minos was the name for all the rulers of Crete. The myth of Theseus may very well record a Mycenaean expedition to conquer Crete, but it seems odd that it is couched
in terms of a love story. That the myth of Theseus records the fall of Minoan Religion is more certain, but it must be remembered that the result was not an elimination of the Cretan goddesses but a merging with the Mycenaean ones. What is interesting is that so much of the Minoan culture is blocked out. It seems likely that something was going on in Crete that was seen as repulsive by the Mycenaeans. One possibility is that the religion became too orgiastic. Literally, the women became so sexy that they sapped the strength of the men who no longer had the will to fight. As in the land of the Lotus eaters, the men forgot their goals so that they could not work or fight. Sex, and perhaps opium put the men in a state of constant distraction. To save their society the Myceneans had to destroy the Minoan culture, and obliterate any knowledge of these orgiastic techniques. The Greeks were one of the first cultures to repress sex, and that process may have been learned from their
involvement with the Minoans.

It is possible that the story of Theseus and the Minotaur is a story of an older Mycenean hero who went to Crete during an earlier period.

Question: TALOS PICTURE

Answer: This should work:
Click
Here

Question: is the name of the brightest star in the Corona Borealis Alpheta or was this just so in ancient times? Is this place the mythical paradise of the celtic people , info please

Answer: Corona Borealis is named after a crown given to Ariadne. Alpheta is a name of Ariadne but not the name of the star Alpha Corona Borealis which has always been the brightest star in the constellation except on rare occaisions when one of the other stars flares up. The naming of the star is discussed on the following page: Click here

Question: How do the Minoans live today?

Answer: The Minoan culture was gone by the time of the Trojan war. Many of the Minoans were killed in the cataclysmic eruption of the volcano on Thera about 1630 BCE. But it seems likely that some survived. Even the assault by the Mycenaeans, which destroyed their culture, probabaly left some Minoans alive. It is possible that
their decendents are still living on Crete. See an article on Crete today:
Click Here

Question: what is the meaning of the greek characters/words
accompanying images of teh labyrinth on ancient coins?

Answer: The only coin I can find has no characters:
Click here

Question: aegis

Answer: This is a rotective garment worn by Athena. Click on the menu directory below and click on Athena.

Question: You say that the Minoan civilization was over
by the time of the Trojan War but did not Minos have a
son Idomeneus who fought at Troy?

Answer: “To Deucalion were born Idomeneus and Crete and a bastard son Molus” according to Apollodorus, Library and Epitome, 3.3.1. Sarpedon fought in the Trojan war and the brother of Minos was Sarpedon. But the Sarpedon at Troy was probably a descendent of the brother of Minos.

Question: What is the actul story about the labyrinyth

Answer: The actual story has yet to be determined.

Question: pics of aegeus

Aegeus consults the Pythia at Delkphi

Question: chimaera

Answer: This was a monster killed by Bellerophon. Apollodorus describes it: “it had the fore part of a lion, the tail of a dragon, and its third head, the middle one, was that of a goat, through which it belched fire. ” (Library and Epitome, 2.3.1) Homer refers to the Chimaera as a goddess in the Iliad (Book VI). He also says: “…Amisodorus, who had reared the invincible Chimaera, to the bane of many.” (Book XVI) Of the Chimaera Hesiod says: “She (Callirrhoe) was the mother of Chimaera who breathed raging fire, a creature fearful, great, swift-footed and strong, who had three heads, one of a grim-eyed lion; in her hinderpart, a dragon; and in her middle, a goat, breathing forth a fearful blast of blazing fire.”

Question: what is the mythological backround of Saturn?

Answer: Saturn is a Roman god. See: Click here

Question: Picture of Pegasus

Answer: Click on the menu directory below and click on Athena.

Question: Hercules

Answer: Click here

Question: was the bull dionysus? Was this myth part of the
religion of dionysus in crete?

Answer: The the Minoans the bull represented their religion, which was essentially female. Dionysus is not a god of the Minoans, but he does appear among the Mycenaeans. But the myth is archaic Greek. The Bull has intercourse with Pasiphae and produces a hybrid creature. If the bull were Dionysus then the story might represent a melding of the cults of Dionysus and Pasiphae in Crete. But I find a bull associated with Zeus, but I do not find one associated with Dionysus.

Question: who was poseidon

Answer: Poseidon was god of earthquakes, water, and the sea.

Question: was the bull-leaping connected to the religion of
dionysus

Answer: The bull-leaping was more likely related to the religion of
Hera-Aphrodite.

Question: what are maenads?

Answer: Women followers of the god Dionysus who formed bands,
drank wine, and caroused to achieve a state of well-being.

Question: I have been looking into different religions related
to the bull and it seems to me that there is a similar pattern to the religion of the thracians which was fundamentally mytriarchic and the minoan religion and I find it very interesting that the other common pattern is the worship/sacrifice of the bull. Also both religions seem to originate from asia minor. Do you think it is actually the same religion interpretated differently by different people?

Answer: Minoan and Mycenaean religions seem to have a common ancestor with the religion of Thrace related to the Mycenaean religion. Of course the religion is matrilinial rather than matriarchic. But the source of this religion is not necessarily Asia minor. Maria Gimbutis finds evidence of this throughout old Europe. The Indo-European culture came from the valley of the Indus and brought their patriarchal culture, which was laid over the indigenous religion of old Europe. A discusion of the Thracian culture is at: Click here

Question: Where do Dedalus and Icarus fit in?

Answer: When Minos found that Theseus had escaped from the labyrinth he assumed Daedalus helped him so Minos confined Daedalus to the labyrinth to punish him. But Daedalus devised a set of wings and with his son he flew out. His son, Icarus, did not follow his fathers advise and flew too near the sun with the result that he fell into the sea. The Minoans did believe their goddesses could fly and it is posible that Athena was represented with wings. This story may have come from an image which represented Athena flying over Crete.

Question: A picture of the Lotus Eaters

Answer: No picture. Sorry.

Question: Is Asterion, the real name of the Minotaur? isn’t it?

Answer: Apollodorus, Library and Epitome, 3.1.4 states “And she gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur.” Insterestingly Asterion means “of the stars” while Theseus is a sun-hero, and Ariadne is a moon-goddess.

Question: I need pictures of ancient greek grapes and olives

Answer:

Question: What is the date at which the storey of Ariadne and Theseus was supposed to have been lived?

Answer: Around 1300 BCE.

Question: What does a votive tabelt look like and what are they?

Answer: The youth in the following image holds a tablet in his hand:
Click here. A tablet is a flat block of clay or a board with either clay or beeswax spread on it. The tablet is for writing sentences on. It becomes votive if the writing is a prayer or a request to a god or goddess. These tablets are often left at an altar to communicate with a deity.

Question: what would be three popular symbols of Minoan and mycenaen art?

Answer:

Question: why were bulls and minotaurs impotant to the minoan hostory?

Answer: It is believed that the image of a bull is important to Minoan
history because a women’s vagina closely resembles the shape of a bull. The bull at that times was a symbol of female procreativity. Minoans worshipped female goddesses because of the ability of women to produce babies. The female was a symbol of the fertility of nature in general.

Question: Who killed the minotaur and what was his father’s name? What is the story?

Answer: Theseus killed the minotaur. Aegeus was the father of Theseus. The story is above.

Question: where can a find pics of the lotus-eaters of greek mythology?

Answer:

Question: who is the father of the minotaur?

Answer: Since Pasiphae, the mother, is the wife of Minos, obviously Minos is one possibility. One author gives Zeus as the father, just as Zeus changed into a bull to rape Europa. But most stories indicate that Poseidon punished Minos (and perhaps Aphrodite punished Pasiphae) by having Pasiphae fall in love with a bull. This bull, Asterios, became the father of the Minotaur, by having sex with Pasiphae being held in a wooden cow.

We know from archeological studies that a bull was very important to the religion of the Minoans and a symbol of the power of the female. We also know that Mycenaeans came to Crete and destroyed the Minoan religion. If this is true the Minotaur may well be a symbol of the Minoan religion and its defeat. The father of the Minotaur may well be the bards of Mycenae who fashioned the story of Theseus and the Minotaur to tell the story of the demise of the Minoan civilization.

Question: can the minotaur get out if the maze

Answer: Maze is a later interpretation of where the minotaur is placed. Originally the Minotaur is in the Labyrinth. From archeology we know that the minoans built courtyards decorated with the labrys or double edged ax. In was in these courtyards that the bull leaping took place. If the Minotaur was confined like the bull in the bull leaping, then he could not get out. But the Minotaur may be symbolic of the Minoan Religion in which case he was free to roam the island of Crete. In later stories when the Labyrinth was identified with a maze then the Minotaur was trapped in the maze.

Question: is there a quest in the minoan culture comparable to the quest of Odysseus?

Answer: No literature can currently be traced to the Minoans. All they seem to have left us are lists of things. There are images that suggest stories, but nothing so detailed as the Odyssey. Some classical Greek stories may have their source in the Minoan culture, but they may be seriously modified.

Question: what does this have to do with Aphrodite?

Answer: Aphrodite made Pasiphae fall in love with the bull. She also made Ariadne fall in love with Theseus.

Question: I have recently bought a statuette in Crete that appears to be the Minotaur, in that it has a bull’s head and a man’s body however, it also has an erect penis. Is this the Minotaur and, if so, why does he have an erection when he is not related to sex or fertility?

Answer: The statuettes that come from Greece are often adapted to suit local taste or the taste of the tourists and you may find imaginative interpretations of ancient imagery. But the Minotaur is related to sex and fertility. One clue is that the Minotaur is supposed to have eaten his victims in spite of the fact that bulls are vegetarians and there is no way that the Minotaur could have eaten the meat of the 12 victims sent from Athens including Theseus. A more likely scenario is that they were used sexually. Also, in spite of the fact that the bull’s head is supposed to be a symbol of the female vagina, the bull is a symbol of masculinity. Another subltety is that Ariadne is closely associated with Aphrodite. Theseus has to reject her because, it seems, she is destined to be the mate of Dionysus. Dionysus can be related to the Minotaur. He may even be the Minotaur reborn. This rebirth is brought about from the death of the Minotaur through the faith of the Maenads on Naxos where Ariadne is left by Theseus. When the Minotaur is reborn as Dionysus then his relation to Ariadne is entirely sexual. In this interpretation one can see similarity between the Dionysian revel and the sacrifice to the Minotaur. Furthermore, in this scenario, we can see the change of the seasons, and fertility, related to the nature of Dionysus and the Minotaur.