THE MINOTAUR

Real Name: Asterius

Occupation: Predator

Legal Status: Exiled Citizen of Crete in the 13th Century B.C.

Identity: The general populace of Earth does not believe in the existence of the Minotaur except as a figure of mythological origin.

Other Aliases: Minotaur translates to "Bull of Minos"

Place of Birth/Death: Cnossus (now part of modern Crete in Greece)

Martial Status: Single

Known Relatives: Pasiphae (mother); Bull of Poseidon (father); Minos (foster father); Androgeus, Catreus, Deucalion, Glaucus (half-brothers); Ariadne, Phaedra (half-sisters); Theseus, Dionysus (brothers-in-law),

Base of Operations: The Labyrinth at Cnossus on Crete

First Appearance: Eternals II #5

History: The Minotaur was the inhuman offspring of Queen Pasiphae of Thirteenth Century Greece and the Bull of Poseidon. Her husband, King Minos, had been given control of the oceans around Crete by the divine right of the sea-god Poseidon. To show his appreciation, Minos promised to sacrifice the grandest bull he had to the sea-god, knowing full well that he did not own any cattle. Poseidon realized the truth behind the wily king and decided to test his devotion to him. He allowed a great white bull of extraordinary size to appear on Crete in order to see if Minos would honor his pact, but Minos instead kept it as a gift to himself rather than sacrifice it as promised. Angered, Poseidon instructed Eros, the god of love, to smite Pasiphae with a love for the great bull. In order for her to appreciate the bull up close, Pasiphae instructed Daedalus, the royal artisan, to create a hollow wooden cow that she could enter in order to approach the Bull of Poseidon. From within it, it was later claimed she became pregnant by the bull and resulted in her pregnancy of the Minotaur.

In the beginning, Pasiphae believed the child she conceived was that of her and Minos, and she named him Asterius after Minos' stepfather, Asterius, who had ruled Crete before Minos. Young Asterius however, was born deformed and slowly grew up to resemble a bull. He never learned to talk, possessed a brutal, more animalistic amount of strength and an intelligence below that of normal human beings but on a more animal-like level. When Minos came to the realization of Asterius' true origin, he locked the freakish monster in the catacombs under the castle, and then commissioned Daedalus, his royal artisan, to further expand the catacombs into a maze so that Asterius, now known as the Minotaur, could not escape. This maze of catacombs later became known as the Labyrinth.

For several years in his war with the Athenians, Minos used the Labyrinth as a place to imprison his enemies for the Minotaur to kill at his leisure. When King Aegeus of Athens slew Minos' son Androgeus, Minos vengefully forced Athens to pay him an annual tribute of seven youths and seven maidens. He kept this required offering of youths sent to him from Athens as a promise he would never invade Athens as long as they sent offerings for the Minotaur. This offering of young men and women was shut up inside the labyrinth, where they either starved or were devoured by the Minotaur looking for sustenance. Meanwhile, the legend of the Minotaur spread far throughout Ancient Greece, but no one knew of its origins for several centuries. As a result, bull-worship in Crete spread throughout much of Greece and its lands in modern Spain.

Eventually, Theseus, the son of Aegeus, volunteered to go to Crete on behalf of his father and sever Cretan dominance and control control on Athens. Allowing himself to be imprisoned in the Labyrinth with the annual group of victims, Theseus enlisted the help of Minos' daughter, Ariadne, to escape the maze, but only after he had killed the Minotaur and freed his kinsmen. Discovering the mad creature, Theseus fought the bull-man and later ran it through with his sword, bringing its secrets to Greece. The Bull of Minos, however, was brought to Mycenae on the Seventh Labor of Hercules, but as it wandered to Athens, it too was slain by Theseus and finally sacrificed as an offering to the gods. The later Greek poets, Plutarch and Apollodorus documented much of these events, but recent scholars and historians do not acknowledge them as history.

According to a later account, the Minotaur was actually slain by the hero Ikaris, a member of a mysterious race of beings known as the Eternals, who often posed as the physical representatives of the gods on Earth. Ikaris was known for slaying members of a rival race of beings known as the Deviants and may have quite possibly believed that the Minotaur was one of those beings. Whether Ikaris was actually the actual person who slew the Minotaur and Theseus merely took credit for it is unrevealed.

It is known that several beings in history have been counted as either having posed as or impersonated the Minotaur. In the Fifth Century BC, a sorceress named Zenobia created and animated a bronze statue of the Minotaur to serve as her minion against the Arabian hero and pirate Sinbad. (Zenobia actually referred to this construct as the Minoton, but this may be on part of her knowledge of the Greek language.) In modern years, the group of costumed adventurers known as the Avengers encountered a subterranean Minotaur in the domain of the Mole Man which they believed was the historical basis of the original Minotaur, but this seems unlikely. In later years,
Miklos Vrylak was granted superhuman powers and a subsequent bull-like form by his father possibly using a combination of chemicals and cellular samples from the Minotaur from Crete, in an effort to save his life. Calling himself the Minotaur, Miklos later encountered Iron Man of the Avengers. 

Recently, Ares, the god of war, unleashed a Minotaur on Hercules, but whether Ares plucked the creature from out of the past, restored it to life or merely released Miklos from prison is unrevealed.

Height: 7 0

Weight: 510 lbs.

Eyes: Red

Hair: Black

Unusual Physical Features: The Minotaur resembles a human male of incredible size with the head of a bull. Some accounts portray him as having the hindquarters of a bull as well or at least the feet of one.

Strength Level: The Minotaur possesses superhuman strength enabling it to lift (press) around 2000 pounds under optimal conditions. (The Minotaur that served Ares had strength to rival Hercules, who has Class 100 level strength.)

Known Superhuman Powers: The Minotaur possesses an uncertain amount of superhuman strength and possibly enhanced durability and olfactory senses. It is a savage, unintelligent creature with solely instinctive rationing skills with hard, sharp horns on its head which it can weld with incredible ferocity.

Comments: This profile largely involves the Minotaur of the Marvel Universe; it is not known if it has appeared in the DC Universe. The Minotaur also appeared in the movies, "The Minotaur" (1961) and "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" (1977).

According to the book "Ancient Mysteries" by Peter James and Nick Thorpe:

In 1979, in an archeological expedition at Knossos, Crete, a professor of archeology named Peter Warren discovered houses where the top rooms had collapsed into the basement. He found several mundane household objects, as well as a large storage jar containing the remains of foodstuffs, burnt earth and human bones (a cervical vertebra) with evidence of  'cut marks.' Investigating further into the adjacent room, they found 251 animal bones (belong to sheep, pigs, dogs, etc.) alongside 371 human bones and bone fragments, all of them from children. Most of these human bones also had 'cut marks' on them. Warren speculates that it was some sort of ritual cannibalism, as the marks on the bones looks as though someone was just scraping the meat and flesh off. He believes that some sort of gruesome cult, killed and ate children for religious purposes, giving rise to the legend of flesh-eating Minotaur. Also, much evidence has been found that the Minoans engaged in bullfighting for religious rituals, where acrobats would try to leap over the charging bulls without getting impaled on its horns. 

Thanks to Jeff Christiansen for the extra appearances of the Minotaur from the Marvel Universe.

Photo of the Minoton is used with permission, courtesy of the Tribute to Ray Harryhausen Website.

Clarifications: The Minotaur of Myth is not to be confused with:

 

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