Legend of the Minotaur - LetterPile - Writing and Literature
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Legend of the Minotaur

Melissa enjoys writing poetry to express herself, and loves learning about new styles and experimenting with different patterns.

Origins of the Minotaur

The Minotaur is one of the most fascinating creatures to come out of Greek mythology and still lingers in our collective memory, appearing in Dungeons and Dragons campaigns and young adult adventure books as a formidable foe. The Tauren, a popular race in World of Warcraft, are based on minotaurs.

You may see minotaurs in fiction and wonder "Who came up with the idea for a person with a bull's head? Where did minotaurs come from?". The Ancient Greeks were the originators of the minotaur myth, which also spawned the trope of labyrinths and began the exploits of the Greek hero Theseus, the mythical founder of Athens. This myth may also remind you of the way Hansel and Gretel leave breadcrumbs to find their way out of the forest, as Theseus does something similar with string to navigate the labyrinth. Ovid, a Greek poet and historian, wrote about the minotaur in his Metamorphoses, but the story is likely to be much older, passed down orally through the generations.

The word "minotaur" comes from the name of Minos, the king that imprisoned him, and the word "Taurus", which means bull. The Greeks may have been trying to explain the natural phenomenon of earthquakes, as the minotaur's labyrinth was underground and his terrifying roar shook the walls of the maze. The Isle of Crete, where the story takes place, sits on a tectonically active area. It is amazing that the Greeks came up with such an unusual explanation, and that a mythological creature from a tale told thousands of years ago still has a notable presence in today's pop culture.

Below is my retelling of the legend of the minotaur in poetic form.

Legend of the Minotaur

Once in the mists of ancient Crete

There lived a deadly minotaur

In a labyrinth waiting to defeat

Heroes that walked through the door

The body of a man and the head of a bull

Anyone who challenged it was deemed a fool

Many agreed it seemed pretty insane

Until the hero Theseus came

Ariadne gave him a ball of thread

To help him win this deadly game

And prayed he wouldn’t end up dead


Now we must tell how the beast came about

A white bull was given to Minos to sacrifice

But the laws of Poseidon King Minos did flout

He killed all the brown bulls and kept the white

Poseidon was angry at the disregard for his rule

So he made Queen Pasiphae fall in love with a bull

Soon she was pregnant with an abomination

The King hid the baby in humiliation

He hired Daedalus, a brilliant inventor

To build a maze underground, his finest creation

To imprison the monster, the young minotaur


Every seven years seven women and men

Would go to their deaths to appease the beast

Vanished in the maze, never seen again

Indeed, the minotaur enjoyed his feast

When the time of the third sacrifice arrived

The hero Theseus contrived

A plan to defeat the deadly minotaur

He’d win a bride and so much more

So he took his place in line

Prepared his magic thread to explore

And entered the creature’s dreaded shrine


He tied the string to the entranceway

Unsheathed his blade and lit a flame

And told the other people to stay

He had a monster to maim

Luckily the thread was bright

Which way? This way? Left or right?

He followed the sounds of roars and scraping

Not once did he even consider escaping

He was the mighty Theseus

He rushed to the center where the creature was waiting

And it was furious


A long epic struggle ensued

Thrashing and wrestling in the mud

Eventually the fight was through

And the hero’s blade shone red with blood

He followed the string back to the start

Then with Ariadne made to depart

He was rewarded with her hand in marriage

Not even the king could disparage

The great hero who settled the score

Showing remarkable courage

In defeating the deadly minotaur


There in the maze lay the beast

Looking smaller in its defeat

Born to live and die in war

Never to leave the isle of Crete

So died the lonely minotaur

© 2019 Melissa Clason

Comments

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on August 13, 2019:

The Minotaur will forever remain a popular mythical creature and I found your introduction about its origins very informative, and the poem told the story well. Good job.

Robert Sacchi on August 08, 2019:

An informative article about this creature popular in literature. The plot of someone gaining position by cleverly defeating an apparently unbeatable creature seems popular in ancient Greek literature.

Lorna Lamon on June 30, 2019:

Your poem is a wonderful way to give life to this legend. Clever writing.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on June 29, 2019:

You've chosen an interesting way to tell the story of the minotaur. I enjoyed reading your introduction and poem and learning about the creature and the legend very much.

Liz Westwood from UK on June 29, 2019:

This is an epic poem.