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SHORT - Representations of the Minotaur and His Story
This exhibition on Minotaurs has viewers looking back in history, where there is a well-known myth about a creature who was born half man, half bull. Greek Mythology describes the creature as having the body of a man but with the head of a bull. How this came about was described that King Minos of Crete prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull and then was to sacrifice him for the sea god to show honor to the deity. But upon seeing the beautiful bull, King Minos refused to move forward with the sacrifice and kept it because of being amazed by such a magnificent bull, thinking Poseidon would not care and sacrificed one of his own, average bulls. Having angered the sea god, Poseidon made Queen Pasiphae, King Minos' wife, fall deep in love with the bull. She ordered one of her craftsmen to create a hollow wooden cow, decorated it to look realistic, and climbed inside it in order to mate with it when attracting the bull. This resulted in the creation of the abomination. With having beast-like tendencies, the offspring grew up with rage and devoured human beings for sustanance. After King Minos seeked advise from an oracle, he was advised to create a giant labyrinth to hold the creature near the Palace in Knossos. This created the fear and the infatuation many had with the creature. Most depict heroic scenes on to pottery, sculptures, and even dish ware such as drinking cups. This exhibition will overlook how the Minotaur is represented with his story in Ancient Greek art.
After the death of King Minos' son, the king ordered that the people of Athens chose 14 nobles of 7 young men and 7 young women to be eaten by the Minotaur as a way to repay for his son's death every couple years. Even if not eaten by the creature, the sacrificial victims would die in the maze while trying to find their way out. It is said that Thesus volunteered to join the third group, killed the monster, and lead the victims out of the maze and into safety. Understanding the myth is key when looking at Ancient Greek Art. This story is portrayed among varies sculptures, paintings, and pottery because it was very relevant to the people and culture. The Minotaur, pictured, is shadowed in black. The light lines outline the muscle tone to show the human likeness in relations to having a bull's head. The bull's tale is about half the size of the creature's body and there is a complete circle completely engulfing the Minotaur. The Minotaur also can be seen clenching an object in each hand. The author of this design made sure to put details in the eyes. The Minotaur and his story are represented everywhere in different works of art.
Knossos' art shows cultural, economic, and even some political supremacy on Crete. Luxury goods are one way to liven up social and political relations. For example in Crete, intricate vessels made of stone has the ability to receive and pour liquids, known as a rhyton. With some having a simple design, this particular type normally gets smashed at the end of use. No matter how intricate and elaborate the designs are with multiple items used to create and finish it, they all mostly get smashed which symbolises the kill of the animal. The bull's head could represent some of the stories of Theseus beheading the Minotaur. The stories include Theseus ending up fighting the Minotaur in the maze and using his sword to chop off the creatures head. Smashing this type of item emphasizes how the Minotaur influences the culture and how he is depicted. These were considered luxuries for the wealthier Minoans, as well as being important items for gift exchange. Lesser designed type versions such as clay material are used for less fancier occasions. It is common to see these occurring in the Late Minoan IB.
This particular pottery item is a red figured Kylie showing the deeds of Theseus. In the interior, there is a circle pattern consisting of Theseus killing the Minotaur. Taking his sword and finishing off the creature, the Minotaur appears to fall forward as he dies. There are few indication of hair, as the bull's head and human body are covered with brown strokes. There also is a broad vertical stripe of pattern that hints towards an alternate maze. Additionally, in this and all other scenes, Theseus is beardless and wears a fillet and a sword belt. The central design is composed of a series of scenes representing more deeds that Theseus did. Each scene goes into detail about each event, allowing those who view this particular piece can easily understand the stories. The exterior part has viewers' eyes being drawn to the human opponents of Theseus, emphasizing the age by the wrinkles of the forehead versus Thesus non-wrinkle face.
The overall vase shows excellent pottery craftsmanship. It can be seen that it is red figured stamnos. It is pictured that Theseus is killing the Minotaur. The details about Theseus are very prominent with having hair on his cheek, long hair swooped behind with some falling down, and having a sword in his right hand. It passed his left arm around the neck of the Minotaur and holds the front of the creatures faces shut. With the Minotaur stepping to the right, he is portrayed falling backwards on his right knee. With the creature's left hand clutching the left shoulder of Theseus, mass amounts of blood leaks out from the wounds located in the abdomen, chest, and both shoulders. The story of the Minotaur can be seen influencing the art painted on all kinds of pottery such as this pictured.
Made in 530 BCE in Greece, this artwork is drawn on a drinking cup that many use so the representation of the Minotaur continues to stay relevant in the art and culture. When looking at this specific drinking cup, it can be easily depicted what the drawn scene is portraying. The scene shows Theseus killing the Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, King Minos' daughter. In addition to her being present for the battle, it appears to have youth as spectators as well. In Greek Mythology, this is the tribute scene of where seven young noble males and seven young maidens get chosen to be sacrificed to the monster or get lost in the maze and die. This scene depicting the third time offerings were made where Theseus volunteered to go with the group to slant the beast.