Minotaur – A Myth or Reality?


One of my favorite myths is the journey of Theseus in the Minoan Crete. That journey had as a purpose to put an end to the death toll that the Athenians owed for many years in the king of Crete, Minoa. What happens though, if it is not only a myth? A majority of people is only aware that the story begins when the Athenians lost the war against the king of Crete Minoa. So, Minos as a forfeiture sets the sacrifice of seven young Athenian girls and boys to Minotaur. That would happen every single year.

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According to the myth the Minotaur was born by the union of Pasiphae (Minoa’s wife) with the white Taurus, which she deeply fall in love with. The result of this union was a creature with a Taurus head and a human body. When Minotaur was born king Minoa asked from the most creative engineer of all ages, Daedalus, to build a labyrinth where he would imprison the Minotaur. In that way Athenians, because of their loss, they were forced to sacrifice 14 young citizens to Minotaur. The son though of the Athenian’s king, Theseus, decides make the Journey to Crete, kill Minotaur and set free his home place from that bloody sacrifice.

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Having arrived in Crete Theseus, falls in love with the beautiful Ariadne, daughter of Minoa. She accepts to help him under one term. Only if he promises her that he would take her with him to Athens. The young Theseus agrees and she gives him the famous Ariadne’s thread. Theseus finally kills the Minotaur and by following the thread he finds his way out of the labyrinth. Here though it comes the question that we put under conversation before. What if the myth of Theseus it is not just a fantastic fairytale, but there is also a big dose of truth in it?

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The archaeological excavations revealed in the island the ancient city and the palace of Knossos in which according to the myth must have been placed the labyrinth. The city was built in the Bronze Age and reached the ultimate point in the 18th century. In that era the palace was built with extend of 200 acres. Almost 1.000 rooms were built, and in that way the palace looked like a labyrinth.

In 1979 in the northern ward of the palace, were revealed the full skeletons of 4 people. We assume that they belong to children. The analysis that the bones were passed through showed that the bones had hits either by blade either by fags. The experts concluded that the hits left wounds where the flesh separates from the bones. Obviously children were sacrificed first and then got eaten.

In the western ward of the palace, now, where found 3 skeletons. The one of them belonged to an 18 year-old-men. The skeleton was found lying on an altar in the room with the spears. His feet were tied and the young man finally died from a hit to the heart with a bronze knife. In the place near the altar there was a special column of gutter, so the blood from the victim’s wounds to drip. From a study is demonstrated that the young man died from loss of blood. In the same area was found the skeletons of a 28 year-old woman as well as the skeleton of a 40 year-old man. Another skeleton was found in the same building, had such severe damage, the researchers they only thing they were able to determine is that it belonged to a man. The human sacrifices took place during the period of decline in the Minoan Crete. Most of times children were sacrificed, thing which formed the basis for the myth of Minotaur.

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What I love especially in the myths is that the interpretation is connected to real life, in human acts, passions and deepest desires. Thus, the killing of the Minotaur symbolizes the end of human sacrifice. The labyrinth, on the other, is the thought, the very nature of the human beings. Complicated, supposedly easy to traverse, tough interpreted and difficult someone reaches the exit. The ones that have entered without methodical thought and dynamic spirit, died. Theseus symbolizes the man, who controls himself, his thought and his passions. For other persons like, Minos, Pasiphae and Daedalus, these are symbols of desire and deception.

Alexandra Zevgiti

Alexandra Zevgiti is studying History and Archaeology in the University of Ioannina. She likes poetry, art & literature and she loves writing short stories and poems. As a member of Literatology she writes articles and short stories as well as some poems.
Alexandra Zevgiti is studying History and Archaeology in the University of Ioannina. She likes poetry, art & literature and she loves writing short stories and poems. As a member of Literatology she writes articles and short stories as well as some poems.

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