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While reading the story of Minos and the Minotaur, I noticed that both of them have nearly identical origins:

  • Both are sired by a white bull (a transformed Zeus or a gift from Poseidon)
  • Their mother is royalty and seduced (Princess Europa or Queen Pasiphae)
  • Their step-father is Cretan royalty (King Asterion or King Minos)

There are other points of similarity (and duplication) as well:

  • Another name for the Minotaur is Asterion, after Minos' step-father.
  • Minos himself was speculated by later writers to have been two kings who were conflated in myth, with the cruel king being the grandson of the good king.
  • Both the Cretan Bull and Zeus in bull form are traditionally associated with the constellation Taurus, and the Minotaur's name Asterion ("starry") suggests a connection as well.

Considering that the mythology was passed down orally and thus subject to embellishment as time wore on, I wonder if the stories of Minos and the Minotaur are actually duplication and modification of the same original story.

  • 1
    Very interesting question. Conflation of myths is a labyrinthine subject, but always worth exploring! – DukeZhou May 3 '18 at 17:54
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Minos actually has some (be it vague) historical references. There is a name in Minoan Linear A that could refer to Minos. La Marle suggests that the name mwi-nu (Minos) is expected to mean 'ascetic' as Sanskrit muni, and fits this explanation to the legend about Minos sometimes living in caves on Crete.

It is likely the Greeks took the Minoan omnipresence of the bull in architecture, and the history or legend of Minos to associate it with the Greek Pantheon & created the Minotaur.

Incidentally, "Labyrinth" is a word of pre-Greek origin, which the Greeks associated with the palace of Knossos in Crete.

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