137. Hercules and the Cretan Bull

Once upon a time, King Eurystheus of Mycenae and Tiryns, commanded a labor to Hercules, the son of Zeus and Alcmene, to bring back alive the mad bull, who was causing mayhem in the isle of Crete, ruled by King Minos.

Some said this was the same bull that had carried Europa over the sea. While others said granting the prayer of Minos, the bull was sent from the sea by Poseidon, so that Minos could sacrifice it. But Minos being enamored by the magnificent bull, did not keep his promise and sacrificed another bull in its place. This angered Poseidon, who made the bull go mad, and also made Pasiphae, the queen of Minos, fall in love with the bull.

Pasiphae burned for the love of the bull, and Daidalos the architect, built a hollow wooden cow, inside which Pasiphae hid herself and copulated with the bull. With time, Pasiphae gave birth to a hybrid beast, having the face of a bull but the body of a human. The monstrous beast, whose birth declared Pasiphae’s unnatural adultery, was known as Minotauros and kept confined, in a labyrinth built by Daidalos. Much later, the hero Theseus entered the labyrinth, killed Minotauros and came out by following a thread, which he had tied at the entrance.

When Hercules arrived at Crete, he asked Minos to help him capture the bull, but Minos refused all aid. Hercules bravely approached the maddened bull, and holding the bull by its horns, fought to subdue it. Finally, the sheer strength of the strong hands of Hercules, forced down the horns of the great bull, and the bull yielded to the commands of Hercules. Thereafter, Hercules travelled to Mycenae and delivered the alive bull to Eurystheus.

Eurystheus set the bull free and the bull in its wanderings, went to Sparta and roamed all over Arkadia. Then crossing the Isthmos, it wandered to Marathon in Attika, where it injured the inhabitants and came to be known, as the dreaded Marathonian bull.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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