The Myth of the Minotaur, the Legendary Beast We Can't Forget

By: Robert Lamb  | 

Minotaur Q&A

Q: Did the Minotaur have a name?

A: Some accounts grant it the name Asterion or Asterius, meaning "starry."


Q: Where did the Minotaur live?

A: In the Minoan labyrinth, an ingenious maze-like prison devised by the master craftsman Daedalus.

Q: What did the Minotaur eat?

A: The flesh of human tributes, despite the herbivorous nature of the bull.

Q: Which part was bull, and which part was human?

A: While we tend to think of the Minotaur as a man with the head of a bull, descriptions were often vague, and actual interpretations sometimes went the other way around, depicting more of a bovine centaur.

Q: Who were the Minotaur's parents?

A: Queen Pasiphae and the Cretan Bull

Q: What were its strengths?

A: Superb bestial power, though some treatments of the creature also give it superior, maze-solving wisdom, as in the game Dungeons and Dragons.

Q: What were the Minotaur's weaknesses?

A: While mortal men seemed no match for it, the Minotaur proved suitably mortal itself when confronted by the hero Theseus. Modern treatments vary, however. In Jorge Luis Borges' "The House of Assertion," a sympathetic Minotaur exhibits a sort of fatal melancholy on top of its mortality. On the other end of the spectrum, the Minotaur in Mark Z. Danielewski's "House of Leaves" takes on eldritch properties that make it seem far from mortal.