Theseus killing the Minotaur.6th century BC
This amphora shows the Greek hero Theseus killing the Minotaur, the bull-man, part of the Minoan tradition including the bull dance. Greek legend says the Minotaur was conceived by Minoan queen Pasaphae who developed a passion for a beautiful bull. Greek craftsman Daedalus designed a cow sculpture to entice the bull to mate with the queen. After their offspring, the Minotaur, was born Daedalus built a maze to hold the monster. The Minotaur was given seven boys and seven girls from Athens to eat each year. No one was able to find their way out of the maze. The Greek hero Theseus entered the labyrinth with others offered to the Minotaur, but he had persuaded Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, to give him a ball of yarn which he unrolled going into the maze, where he dispatched the monster, then followed the yarn to get out. Theseus took Ariadne with him when he escaped from the island, but later abandoned her on the island of Naxos.
The legend, depicted in this slightly-restored black-figure vase painting, shows how Greek heroes subverted matriarchal religion, for Ariadne was the devotee of a nature religion who succumbed to the patriarchal Greek hero. However, this bull cult long survived, not only in Spain and Portugal, but as far north as the Western Highlands of Scotland at Isle Maree. World Images (California State University): : 6th century BC Greek Attic black-figure amphora: anonymous. Theseus killing the minotaur. Munich. Staatliche Antikensammlungen. ¬©Kathleen Cohen under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5 License.