The Bull Cult of Crete



Having been taken to Crete by Zeus, Europa gave birth to three sons by Zeus, Minos, Sarpedon, and Rhadamanthys. Europa married Asterius, the King of Crete, who brought up her three sons, and made Minos his heir. The son of Minos, Minos II, married Pasiphae.


Poseidon the God of the seas gave King Minos of Crete a bull which he was to sacrifice. The bull was so magnificent an animal Minos decided to keep it for himself. This upset Poseidon, and he punished Minos by having his wife Pasiphae fall in love with the bull.



She asked the Athenian craftsman Daedalus and his son Icarus to help her satisfy her lust for the creature. Daedalus built a wooden cow in which she could be suspended to make herself available for the bull.


The coupling of Pasiphae and the bull produced the hideous, half bull, half man, Minotaur, who was incarcerated by Minos in a labyrinth, especially designed by Daedalus, beneath the palace at Knossos.


One year the hero Theseus volunteered to be part of the tribute from Athens to Crete, aiming to kill the Minotaur. Daedalus wooed by Ariadne, the King's daughter, who had fallen in love with Theseus, showed how to get him in and out of the complicated labyrinth safely to kill the Minotaur. Afterwards, when King Minos found out about the plot, he imprisoned Daedalus and his son Icarus in the labyrinth.