“(The) Bull…mingled with the bullocks in the groves, his color white as virgin snow, untrod, unmelted by the watery Southern Wind. His neck was thick with muscles, dewlaps hung between his shoulders; and his polished horns, so small and beautifully set, appeared the artifice of man; fashioned as fair and more transparent than a lucent gem. His forehead was not lowered for attack, nor was there fury in his open eyes; the love of peace was in his countenance.” Ovid, Metamorphoses, 846[i]
Minos, the son of a bull,[ii] wished to be king, to prove his lineage to Cretans, he swore that whatever he prayed for the gods would do. He prayed that the Bull might appear from the depths, promising to sacrifice it to Poseidon. The gods did send him up the fine Bull, it roared forth from the sea. Minos failed to sacrifice it. Minos’ queen Pasiphae took a fancy to the Bull too and birthed his son; a monster called Asterius the Minotaur.[iii]
Heracles took the “Cretan” Bull to Greece as one of his labors.[iv] The Bull grew wild in Minos’ herds and became, “the crushing terror of a hundred towns.”[v] Heracles took the Bull back to Eurystheus. . He intended to sacrifice the Bull to Hera his namesake and divine nemesis, but she wanted not to do with it. He set the Bull loose. The Bull wandered to Sparta and then crossed the Isthmus and went as far as Marathon near Athens where it molested the locals.[vi]
Androgeos, son of Minos, came to Athens to celebrated the Panathenaian Games, in which vanquished all comers. The prince was sent against the Bull of Marathon, by which he was destroyed.[vii]
Afterwards Theseus, son of Poseidon went out against the Marathonian bull, which was doing no small mischief to the inhabitants of the Tetrapolis[viii] and drove the Bull to the Acropolis and sacrificed him.[ix]
In summary, the demi-god Minos did not sacrifice the Bull. The demi-god Heracles captured the bull, but did not sacrifice it. The hero Androgeus did neither and the demigod Theseus did both. So the story of the Bull should be finished,[x] except for the wrath of King Minos.
Asterius, the Minotaur and Minos stilled reigned in Crete. The Minotaur; half bull, half man, son of the Bull seemed to be the talisman that insured Minos rule, similar to the Golden Fleece of Colchis[xi], the Palladion at Troy[xii], the Gold Lamb of Atreus[xiii] or maybe even the Sphinx at Thebes who insured the rule of Creon and Jocasta. In compensation for the death of Prince Androgeus, the Atheneans sent 14 youths as tribute each year to the Minotaur. Theseus went with them.
Adriane, the Minotaur’s half sister like her Aunt Medea aided this wandering prince to betray her father and slay the monster. And like her aunt she was abandoned by the prince on Naxos Island.
Once home, Theseus’ wife Phaedra, another daughter of Minos, took a fancy to her step-son. The son fled in a chariot. Theseus called upon hi father Poseidon to avenge him. “A huge wave, which overtopped even the Molurian Rock, rolled roaring shoreward; and from its crest sprang a great white bull, bellowing and spouting water.” Hippolytus’ four horses swerved and he, caught in the reins, the maddened horses dragged him, until he was crushed to death. [xiv]
In summary, the Minotaur, the son of the Bull, talisman and guardian spirit of Crete is slain by Theseus, son of Poseidon. His sister the Princess Adriane assits in the over thwo of the Minoian hegemony and then is abandon. Her sister Phaedra like their Pasiphae suffer a taboo longing and Hippolytus son of Theseus is slain directly by a bull sent by Poseidon. So ends the story of the Bull.[xv]
[i] trans. By Brookes More According to Akousilaos [historian C6th B.C.] the Cretan Bull carried Europa for Zeus rather than the more common belief that Zeus was in disguise as a bull. (per Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 94)
[ii] Apollodorus, The Library, [3.1.1] trans. JG Frazer
[iv] Along with the a golden-horned deer sacred to Artemis, the Erymanthian boar (Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 2. 8183 & trans. Aldrich), Geryon’s shambling, broad-faced cattle (Hesiod) and the three-headed hound of Hades (Homer, Odyssey 11. 623 ff (trans. Shewring)
[v] Seneca, Hercules Furens 230 ff (trans. Miller)
[vi] Bibliotheca 2. 94 - 95 (trans. Aldrich)
[vii] Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheca 3. 15. 7 (trans. Frazer) :
[viii] Plutarch, Life of Theseus 14. 1 (trans. Perrin)
[ix] Pausanias, Description of Greece 1. 27. 9 (trans. Jones
[x] Ring Theory and 5 Ages of Man
[xi] Diodorus Siculus, Library of History 4. 47. 1 - 6 (trans. Oldfather)
[xii] Apollodorus, The Library E5.12-13
[xiii] NOTES ON THE EPITOME OF THE LIBRARY OF APOLLODORUS BY J. G. FRAZER #43
[xiv] Robert Graves The Greek Myths, pages 95 &210 electronic
[xv] But not the end of Hippolytus (Virbius) see The Golden Bough by Frazer