Minotaur was a creature found in Crete Island, and the creature as legend has it was half-man on one part, half-bull on the other. It was used by famous King Minos to torture and slaughter foreigners from Athens as a result of the death of his son Andreous. The inhabitants of Crete were the Minos people, and the name Minos was coined by their king called Minos in the 20th century. The Minotaur creature lived at the center of king Minos Palace in a Labyrinth designed by architect Daedalus and it existed till Theseus from Athens killed it with the help of king Minos’ daughter. Though the Minoans people were not Greek themselves, their culture and traditions were very influential in mainland Greece (Claudia & Elso, p. 96).
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The Minotaur Island came as a result of a myth, that is, according to the archaeologist, there used to be a famous King named Minos and his creature Minotaur. The story of the Minotaur begins with the death of the king’s son who was killed by Athenians and the subsequent demand for blood compensation for the death of his son. The payment included seven virgin girls and seven young men that were to be given to Minotaur every year. A man name named Theseus from Athens offered himself for sacrifice but with the sole intention of killing Minotaur. Theseus’s father being afraid of his son’s life made him promise that if he succeeds in killing Minotaur, he should change his traditional black ship into white as a sign that he was alive. Theseus, together with others on reaching Knossos, became fortunate that the king’s daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and promised to help him kill Minotaur. Minotaur was killed, but Ariadne was later abandoned on the island of Naxos. Theseus forgot to change the color of his ship thereby making his father commit suicide. This was the myth behind the island of Crete that was referred to as Minotaur Island after the famous Minotaur bull (Claudia & Elso, p. 69).
Crete had a very wonderful and inspiring culture that was believed to have influenced the whole of Greece and inspired the Golden age. Sir Arthur Evans presented the Minoan people as peace-loving, obedient to the rule of law and anti-war but they were strong in sea war that they did not have to build a surrounding wall as security like their neighbors. Though they were peace-loving, they were worldly and luxurious people who loved everything that looked good. They were talented especially artists, and sculptors and the amazing thing is that there was no personal ambition among them and they all worked for the benefit of Crete. Other traits include being nature lovers, great admirers of human physical beauty, for example, they liked to see the masculine body, narrow waists among women, long but dark hair in both men and women, and large chest in men. Both men and women dressed in a sexually proactive manner. In general Minoan customs rotated around art, fashion, beauty, nature, love for jewelry, ornamental decoration, and above all peace (Castleden, p. 161).
Minoan civilization began around 3000 B.C. and ended around 1100 B.C with the dawn of the Dark ages (Claudia & Elso, p. 90). The major reason for the collapse of Crete can be attributed to the volcanic eruption on the isle of Thera around 1500 B.C. As a result, the coastal sides of Crete have been swept away, and civilization that had begun faded away as cities were destroyed. Secondly, the invasion by Peloponnese, the proto-Greek, destroyed Knossos as a city thereby killing civilization totally. The proto-Greek came in with war and invasions thereby destroying the peace that used to exist as a symbol of Minoan custom. In conclusion, therefore, this was the beginning of the Dark Age and collapse of civilization.
- Claudia D. Johnson, Vernon Elso Johnson: Understanding the Odyssey: A Student Casebook to Issues, Greenwood Publishing Group, 2003 50- 110
- Rodney Castleden: Minoans: Life in Bronze Age Crete, Routledge, 1990 pg 120- 170