Strong as a bull, tranquil as a forest, swift as a coursing river and mysterious as the dark side of the moon, this month’s creature feature is not Shang – it’s the Minotaur!
WHAT IS IT
Minotaurs are bull-headed creatures with humanoid bodies (not to be confused with centaurs, who are creatures with human heads on horse bodies). The most famous minotaur is Asterion, the beast that dwelled in Cretan King Minos’ labyrinth. Minotaurs can be identified via their horns, tail and furry bodies. They stand up and in some tales can conserve with regular humans. Stronger than body-builders and taller than supermodels, minotaurs are inherently powerful beings.
The first minotaur to roam the world was Asterion, the bastard creature of King Minos’ wife, Pasiphae, and a white bull gifted to the couple from Greek God Poseidon. After giving birth, Pasiphae nursed and raised Asterion only to discover that her son needed more than just a mother’s love to grow: he needed to consume humans.
Eventually, Minos was forced to hide Asterion away, trapping him in a labyrinth. Asterion lived in seclusion for years until a series of events – that he had no involvement in – brought Athenian hero Theseus to Crete where he slayed the beast.
Nowadays, minotaurs are sparsely used in media. However rare, they still do make some appearances:
- Percy Jackson defeats a minotaur during the middle of his quest.
- The World of Warcraft race Tauren are based off minotaurs.
- The 1984 film Minotaur is a retelling of the famous tale.
- Lee Martinez’s Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest features a vegetarian minotaur as the main character.
- In the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, main character Annie befriends a minotaur when she has to do a school project on myths.
- There’s even a geophysical company based in Australia named Minotaur.
With every classical beast, writers can explore the other side of the story. Asterion was a victim in a lot of his story. Yes, he was also a murderer but there’s tragedy in him that is ripe for storytelling.
Another idea is a minotaur rancher that enters his cows into a cattle-judging competition. The minotaur faces prejudice, but their love for their herd pushes them forward. Or maybe the opposite of that. Picture it, the main character is a minotaur heir to a successful ranch but he/she doesn’t want to follow the family footsteps – they want to be a dancer. That could make for an exciting story about overcoming hardships and would be a refreshing take on the overdone “small-townie travels to the big city.”
(Lead Image copyright Egil Thompson)