Cretan Bull: From History and Myth to Hercules

22/02/2021

     Meet the Cretan Bull from Greek Mythology! This creature did a huge job on the island where he lived but had its end in the hands of Hercules, check out its history and myth.


Cretan Bull in Greek Mythology:

     The Cretan Bull, in Greek Mythology, was a beast that lived on the island of Crete and was captured by Hercules in one of his famous 12 works. Other legends associate it with the Minotaur and the kidnapping of Europe. Legend has it that the bull from Crete emerged from the Aegean Sea, sent by the sea god, Poseidon, at the request of Minus, son of King Asterius. Minos, whose succession to the throne was being contested, asked Poseidon to intercede on his behalf, giving rise to a sign of his legitimacy from the waters.

     Poseidon imposed on Minus the condition that the bull should later be sacrificed in his name. Minus, however, admired by the beauty of the white bull, mixed it with others in his herd, and sacrificed a lesser animal. This disobedience provoked the ire of Poseidon, who punished Minus, making the animal incredibly furious. With that, his wife maintained relations with the bull, then Minotaur was born. The bull began to terrorize the island of Crete, attacking the population, who were forced to lock up in their homes.

Cretan Bull and Hercules:

     Cretan Bull was defeated by Hercules, at the behest of Euristeu, in what became known as the seventh of his works. The hero landed in Crete, subdued the bull by the horns and took him to Argolis, where he handed him over to Euristeu. He wanted to hand it over to Hera, but the goddess, unwilling to accept a gift from Hercules, set the beast free again. Theseus later captured him on the Marathon plains.


The Abduction of Europe:

     Another tradition also associates the Cretan Bull with Europe, the beautiful daughter of Agenor, king of Phenicia. The best known version of the legend says that Europa was abducted by Zeus, who took the form of a beautiful white bull and took her to Crete, where she married Asterius. Another version, however, rejects the metamorphosis of the god himself, and claims that Zeus actually sent the bull from Crete to seduce the princess.

Taurus Constellation:

     In Greek Mythology, the Cretan Bull is associated with the constellation of Taurus, formed only by the head, shoulders and forelimbs of the animal, because when abducting Europe and taking it to Crete by the sea, its posterior part was submerged by the waves. The stars are represented as a bull in an attack position, with huge horns lowered.