Darrell J. Pursiful

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The Lowdown on the Minotaur

Alice Leiper has written a nice introduction to the Greek myth of the Minotaur over at Mythic Scribes:

The story of the Minotaur was never forgotten, but it wasn’t just in modern stories that it has been reused. Dante’s Inferno contains mention of the Minotaur, where Dante and Virgil encounter it guarding the entrance to the Seventh Circle of hell, the circle of violence. The Minotaur is here seen as representing all three rings of the circle: violence against others, for he ate people; violence against oneself, whereby in Dante’s version the Minotaur is seen as biting itself; and violence against nature, for what could be more unnatural than the product of a human mating with an animal?

More recently, CS Lewis used the Minotaur not as a single individual but a whole species, aligned with the White Witch and thereby retaining the evilness of their origins, albeit without the myth behind it. And from there, minotaurs became a fantasy race, used as monsters to battle in Dungeons & Dragons and various games stemming from it. In World of Warcraft the Minotaur’s appearance has inspired the Tauren race, but their temperament is quite a contrast to the angry, flesh-eating Minotaur of the Greek myth.

The Minotaur has been reimagined in other ways too. In the slightly bizarre fantasy webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell, there is a minotaur called Basil, who lives peacefully in a labyrinth hidden behind a secret door in the library of the Court. Basil gives his version of events in which Theseus is a drunk, party-crashing jerk.



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