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
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.