Myths and Creatures of the Past: Minotaurs

1 02 2010


I thought it fitting that I begin with the minotaur, which was one of the first creatures from Greek mythology I was exposed to. Some of you might be familiar with the creatures somewhat disturbing origins. Then again, fewer and fewer things evoke disgust these days, so maybe not.

To be concise, there once was a king by the name of Minos who was contending with his brothers for the rule of Crete. Poseidon sent him a white bull from the sea. Minos had promised the god of the seas (and horses and earthquakes) that he would sacrifice the animal but grew greedy and used a different bull from his herd. Unsurprisingly, Poseidon figured it out and grew angry – as the Greek gods and goddesses were quick to do – and basically cursed Minos’ wife by making her fallĀ  truly, madly, deeply in love with it. Basically, she tricked the bull into mating with her.

Their offspring (science and the restrictions to reproduction can just shut up) was a monstrous beast: THE MINOTAUR!

With the body of a man and the head and tail of a bull, you can imagine the reaction it drew from the people of Crete as it wrought chaos and destruction on the small island.

If you want to read more on the creature and his Greek adversary, Theseus, click on this link.

I remember reading a whole series of fantasy books which took place from a Minotaur’s perspective which I thoroughly enjoyed. The series was called The Minotaur Wars byRichard A. Knaak. I read them awhile ago though, so I couldn’t tell you what age I recommend them for, though I was at least thirteen.

See if this aligns with your view of what these creatures looked like:

Some creative writing (criticism welcome):

It took him no time to crest the hill, his muscular legs pounding away at the ground in complete sync with those of his warrior brothers. Without pause, he pushed forward, unslinging his heavy axe as he ran towards the human ranks ahead. He silently praised the brilliant innovator who had come up with the coverings for their hooves. This invention, tailored specifically to the needs of their current undertaking, would forever change his people’s warring abilities. What he and his unit were doing was in complete breach of the treaty his king had made with the human leaders many moons ago, but Alhmas was simply a soldier and did not concern himself with such matters.

Of his unit, he was the most senior and thus was given command. While he may not have paid much attention to politics and diplomacy, one craft in which he did excel was that of war. As such, it was no great surprise to him that his superiors had chosen this night for their operation. Minotaurs were not much better suited for these winter conditions than their human counterparts, their nighttime sight just as useless. In these conditions, an attack was the last thing the humans could have expected.

Dispatching the sentry posts, few as they were, was simple enough, though he had not seen any action and ached for his opportunity to repay the humans for their ambition and arrogance. Quick to anger, Alhmas snorted but regained control of himself quickly lest his men follow his example and give away their intent.

From his elevated height, Alhmas had a perfect view of the city which lay at the bottom of the valley. A tactical nightmare, he thought pleasantly as his units closed the distance between themselves and the city. It seemed the entire city was sleeping, none privy to the danger that charged upon them from above. They were within the last fifty yard stretch when all hell broke loose around him. Following a volley of arrows from the walls, men camouflaged in white sprung from the ground and delivered death to those in his unit. Their plans of climbing the walls unnoticed and opening the gates from within were now moot. Alhmas grabbed his horn and blew it mightily, sounding a retreat. He cleaved an unwitting human with his axe and made short work of two more before backing off himself.

As far as he could tell, their casualties were still at a minimum as he himself joined his fleeing comrades. He faltered in his step as he saw a horde of enemies rush down at him from the trees. He roared as he charged at them, his body and mind yearning for human blood.