The Toreador Fresco illustrates the Minoan fascination through bulls. So late Bronze age 1550 1450 BC. Court that the stone Spout, Knossos, Crete. (Photo by Werner Forman/Universal pictures Group/Getty Images)

The Minoan society controlled Crete, one island in the Mediterranean Sea south of greece from about 2000 to 1600 BCE. Theirs was a innovative and advanced society. Among the earliest europe civilizations, the Minoans had actually running water and also paved roads, because that instance, long before other cultures. They developed beautiful, elaborate mosaics, and other, pieces of art. For such a cultured team of people, they had one design template that permeated v their whole society…their worship of the bull. Let’s look at how the bull ended up being a symbol of Crete and also how the Minoan bull cult resulted in some enduring myths and legends. 




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King Minos, when a bull himself, subjugated the Minoan people. Source: (knossoguides.com)

King Minos and the birth of the Minoan Civilization

According to the Greek myths, Minos was the kid of Zeus. Through a series of unfortunate events, Zeus turned Minos into a bull. Europa, a Phoenician princess, found herself strange smitten with the beautiful white bull. She climbed top top the creature’s back and rode through him every the method to Crete. There, Minos – apparently transformed earlier into a man – became the king that the island nation, married Europa, and had several kids with him. Under King Minos’s rule, Crete came to be a political and also economic powerhouse and the Minoan marine even beat Athens in battle. 


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THe Athenian prince beat the Minotaur. Source: (knossoguides.com)

The Minotaur

As the child of a god, King Minos typically hobnobbed through the gods. He readily available advice to his dad Zeus indigenous time come time. Once time, King Minos request Poseidon for a white bull that he planned to market as a sacrifice come the gods. Poseidon obliged and delivered a beautiful bull come Minos. The King determined he would store the bull because that himself rather of sacrificing it together he promised. This angry Poseidon. To punish King Minos, Poseidon made the king wife fall in love through the sacrificial bull and also consummate their love. Once his wife offered birth come a half-man, half-bull monster, King Minos had the fearsome biology locked away. 


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The Minotaur"s labyrinth. Source: (auction.catawiki.com)

The Legend of the Labyrinth

To house the half-man, half-bull Minotaur and to keep the cities of Crete safe, King Minos ordered the a huge network of tunnels and also passageways be constructed under the island. The Minotaur roamed the maze the the labyrinth, but he acquired hungry indigenous time to time. Since King Minos had beat Athens, the leader demanded a Hunger Games-like tribute native the world of Athens every nine years. The commanded that seven young Athenian boys and also seven young Athenian girls be carried to Crete. They were tossed into the labyrinth through the hungry beast. As the youths struggled to uncover their way through the maze, the hungry Minotaur would pick them off one by one and make them his meal. This brutal practice went on, follow to stories, until Theseus, prince that Athens, disguised himself as a tribute and killed the Minotaur. 


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The bull motif is usual in Minoan art. Source: (hellenic-art.com)

Worship that the Bull

The bull was an essential symbol come the people of Crete. It can be checked out on pottery, frescos, and also coins the the time. The bull represented the sun and the strength of light. Because that the Minoans, the bull additionally served as a price of power and also might, an especially the strength of male over nature. This proved to it is in ironic due to the fact that the Minoan world was damaged in a volcano eruption. 




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A demonstrate of Minoan bull leaping. Source: (blog.playo.com)

Grabbing the Bull by the Horns

The old Minoans are credited with offering the civilization the phrase, “grabbing the bull by the horns.” Certainly, King Minos and his navy showed that they had actually initiative and could take opportunities, yet the Minoan people also took the idiom literally. Follow to legends and also depictions ~ above frescos, the Minoans involved in the practice of bull-leaping. Bull-leaping was a test of an individual’s bravery and ability to dominate. With an upset bull an altering toward a person, the individual would master the horns the the animal and also leap over it is a handstand fashion come land safely on the floor behind the bull. It is every bit as dangerous as it sounds.