The Official Collection of Fantastical Creature Information--Updated Randomly

For all your fantastical creature needs! This is the beginning of my encyclopedia, and I'm collecting as much information as I can on various fantasy creatures. Most of my stuff can be found on wikipedia. However, no source is perfect, so the stuff that is my input is often italicized. Help me by sending me more information at Questkid13@gmail.com

Side Note: There have been concerns about my using Wikipedia because it is not a reliable resource. I am well aware of wikipedia's unreliable nature--but that's exactly why I use it. Fantasy creatures are available to all, and everyone should have a chance to add their "discoveries." This website is supposed to be a fun collection of fantastical creature information with fun images to go with. I am not a reliable source--I'm just a collector. Though at this point, I am flattered that people are concerned with the validity of my site. :)

!!!!This is NOT a forum. Comments are to be informative and generally helpful. Clean humor is acceptable, but NOT if it detracts from the entry. This site is to help people find out more about fantastical creatures!!!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Minotaur

In Greek legends, the Minotaur (Greek: Μῑνώταυρος, Mīnṓtauros) was a creature that was part man and part bull. It dwelt at the center of the Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The historical site of Knossos is usually identified as the site of the labyrinth. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus. "Minotaur" is Greek for "Bull of Minos." The bull was known in Crete as Asterion, a name shared with Minos's foster father.


Birth and appearance
After he ascended the throne of Crete, Minos struggled with his brothers for the right to rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of approval. He was to sacrifice the bull in honor of Poseidon but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty. To punish Minos, Poseidon caused Pasiphae, Minos' wife, to fall madly in love with the bull from the sea, the Cretan Bull. She had Daedalus, the famous architect, make a wooden cow for her. Pasiphaë climbed into the decoy in order to have sex with the white bull. The offspring of their unnatural lovemaking was a monster called the Minotaur.


Nowhere has the essence of the myth been expressed more succinctly than in the Heroides attributed to Ovid, where Pasiphaë's daughter complains of the curse of her unrequited love: "the bull's form disguised the god, Pasiphaë, my mother, a victim of the deluded bull, brought forth in travail her reproach and burden." Literalist and prurient readings that emphasize the machinery of literal copulation may intentionally obscure the mystic marriage of the god in bull form, a Minoan mythos alien to the Greeks.


The Minotaur, as the Greeks imagined him, had the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull. Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious. Minos, after getting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. Its location was near Minos' palace in Knossos.

Tribute price that brought Theseus
Now it happened that Androgeus, son of Minos, had been killed by the Athenians, who were jealous of the victories he had won at the Panathenaic festival. Others say he was killed at Marathon by the Cretan bull, his mother's former taurine lover, which Aegeus, king of Athens, had commanded him to slay. The common tradition is that Minos waged war to avenge the death of his son, and won. However, Catallus, in his account of the Minotaur's birth, refers to another version in which Athens was "compelled by the cruel plague to pay penalties for the killing of Androgeos." In this version, the Athenians are made to ask Minos what they can do to stop a terrible plague that has come upon them, and he was thus given power to make demands of them. In either case, Minos required that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sent every ninth year (some accounts say every year) to be devoured by the Minotaur.


When the third sacrifice came round, Theseus volunteered to go to slay the monster. He promised to his father, Aegeus, that he would put up a white sail on his journey back home if he was successful and would have the crew put up black sails if he was killed. In Crete, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus and helped him navigate the labyrinth, which had a single path to the center. In most accounts she gave him a ball of thread, allowing him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and led the other Athenians back out of the labyrinth.


Theseus took Ariadne with him from Crete, but abandoned her enroute to Athens (Generally this is said to happen on the island of Naxos). According to Homer, she was killed by Artemis upon the testimony of Dionysus. However, later sources report that Theseus abandoned her as she slept on the island of Naxos, and there she became the bride of Dionysus. The epiphany of Dionysus to the sleeping Ariadne became a common theme in Greek and Roman art, and in some of these images Theseus is shown running away. This story is also recounted in Catullus.

On his return trip, Theseus was caught in a tremendous storm that resulted in the white sails being lost and put up the spare, black sails for the remainder of the voyage. His father, seeing the black sails and believing his son to be dead, was overcome with grief and leapt off the clifftop from which he had kept watch for his son's return every day since Theseus had departed into the sea. on Athenian texts, the name of the "Aegean Sea" is derived from this event.


Minos, angry that Theseus was able to escape, imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in a tall tower. They were able to escape by building wings for themselves with the feathers of birds that flew by, but Icarus died during the escape as he flew too high (in hope of seeing Apollo in his sun chariot) and the wax that held the feathers in the wing melted in the heat of the sun.

Interpretations
The ruins of Minos' palace at Knossos have been found, but the labyrinth has not. The enormous number of rooms, staircases and corridors in the palace has led archaeologists to believe that the palace itself was the source of the labyrinth myth. Homer, describing the shield of Achilles, remarked that the labyrinth was Ariadne's ceremonial dancing ground.


A special thanks to wikipedia and to Vegasmike of deviantart for this great image!

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