The Minotaur was a creature with the head of a bull on the body of a man. He dwelt at the center of the Cretan Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction built for King Minos of Crete and designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus who were ordered to build it to hold the Minotaur. The Minotaur was eventually killed by Theseus, the son of Aegeas.
Birth and appearance
After he ascended the throne of Crete, Minos struggled with his brothers for the right to rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of approval. He was to sacrifice the bull in honor of Poseidon but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty. To punish Minos, Poseidon caused Pasiphaë, Minos’ wife, to fall madly in love with the bull from the sea, the Cretan Bull. She had Daedalus, the famous architect, make a wooden cow for her. Pasiphaë Climbed into the decoy in order to copulate with the white bull. The offspring of their coupling was a monster called the Minotaur. Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious. Minos, after getting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. Its location was near Minos’ palace in Knossos.
Nowhere has the essence of the myth been expressed more succinctly than in the Heroides attributed to Ovid, where Pasiphaë’s daughter complains of the curse of her unrequited love: “the bull’s form disguised the god, Pasiphaë, my mother, a victim of the deluded bull, brought forth in travail her reproach and burden.” Literalist and prurient readings that emphasize the machinery of actual copulation may, perhaps intentionally, obscure the mystic marriage of the god in bull form, a Minoan mythos alien to the Greeks.
From Classical times through the Renaissance, the Minotaur appears at the center of many depictions of the Labyrinth. Ovid’s Latin account of the Minotaur, which did not elaborate on which half was bull and which half man, was the most widely available during the Middle Ages, and several later versions show the reverse of the Classical configuration: a man’s head and torso on a bull’s body, reminiscent of a centaur. This alternative tradition survived into the Renaissance, and still figures in some modern depictions, such as Steele Savage’s illustrations for Edith Hamilton’s Mythology
Androgeus, son of Minos, had been killed by the Athenians, who were jealous of the victories he had won at the Panathenaic festival. Others say he was killed at Marathon by the Cretan bull, his mother’s former taurine lover, which Aegeus, king of Athens, had commanded him to slay. The common tradition is that Minos waged war to avenge the death of his son, and won. Catullus, in his account of the Minotaur’s birth, refers to another version in which Athens was “compelled by the cruel plague to pay penalties for the killing of Androgeos.” Aegeus must avert the plague caused by his crime by sending “young men at the same time as the best of unwed girls as a feast” to the Minotaur. Minos required that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens, drawn by lots, be sent every ninth year to be devoured by the Minotaur.
When the third sacrifice approached, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster. He promised to his father, Aegeus, that he would put up a white sail on his journey back home if he was successful and would have the crew put up black sails if he was killed. In Crete, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, fell in love with Theseus and helped him navigate the labyrinth, which had a single path to the center. In most accounts she gave him a ball of thread, allowing him to retrace his path. Theseus killed the Minotaur with the sword of Aegeus and led the other Athenians back out of the labyrinth. But he forgot to put up the white sail, so when his father saw the ship he presumed Theseus was dead and threw himself into the sea, thus committing suicide.
Source(s) 3.5E Monster Manual I, 3E Monster Manual I, Monstrous Compendium Volume 1, d20 Modern, Dragonlance (MC4), 1E Monster Manual 1, Basic Boxed Set, Rules Cyclopedia, Classic D&D Game, Monstrous Manual
|Large monstrous humanoid|
|Hit Dice||6d8+12 (39 hp)|
|Speed||30 ft. (6 squares)|
|Armor Class||14 (-1 size, +5 natural), touch 9, flat-footed – (see text)|
|Attack||Greataxe +9 melee (3d6+6/x3) or gore +9 melee (1d8+4)|
|Full Attack||Greataxe +9/+4 melee (3d6+6/x3) and gore +4 melee (1d8+2)|
|Space/Reach||10 ft./10 ft.|
|Special Attacks||Powerful charge 4d6+6|
|Special Qualities||Darkvision 60 ft., natural cunning, Scent|
|Saves||Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +5|
|Abilities||Strength 19, Dexterity 10, Constitution 15, Intelligence 7, Wisdom 10, Charisma 8|
|Skills||Intimidate +2, Listen +7, Search +2, Spot +7|
|Feats||Great Fortitude, Power Attack, Track|
|Organization||Solitary, pair, or gang (3-4)|
|Alignment||Usually chaotic Evil|
|Advancement||By character class|
Minotaurs are man-eating monsters with the head of a bull and the hairy body of a man. Strong and territorial creatures often found in vast underground labyrinths. A minotaur stands more than 7 feet tall and weighs about 700 pounds.
Minotaurs speak Giant.
Minotaurs prefer melee combat, where their great strength serves them well.
Powerful Charge (Ex): A minotaur typically begins a battle by charging at an opponent, lowering its head to bring its mighty horns into play. In addition to the normal benefits and hazards of a charge, this allows the beast to make a single gore attack with a +9 attack bonus that deals 4d6+6 points of damage.
Natural Cunning (Ex): Although minotaurs are not especially intelligent, they possess innate cunning and logical ability. This gives them immunity to maze spells, prevents them from ever becoming lost, and enables them to Track enemies. Further, they are never caught flat-footed.
Minotaurs As Characters
Minotaur characters possess the following racial traits.
- +8 Strength, +4 Constitution, -4 Intelligence (minimum 3), -2 Charisma. -Large size. -1 penalty to Armor Class, -1 penalty on attack rolls, -4 penalty on Hide checks, +4 bonus on grapple checks, lifting and carrying limits double those of Medium characters.
- Space/Reach : 10 feet/10 feet.
- A minotaur’s base land speed is 30 feet.
- Darkvision out to 60 feet.
- Racial Hit Dice: A minotaur begins with six levels of monstrous humanoid, which provide 6d8 Hit Dice, a base attack bonus of +6, and base saving throw bonuses of Fort +2, Ref +5, and Will +5.
- Racial Skills : A minotaur’s monstrous humanoid levels give it skill points equal to 9 x ?(2 + Intelligence modifier, minimum 1). Its class skills are Intimidate, Jump, Listen, Search, and Spot.
- Minotaurs have a +4 racial bonus on Search, Spot, and Listen checks.
- Racial Feats : A minotaur’s monstrous humanoid levels give it three feats.
- Weapon Proficiency : A minotaur is proficient with the Greataxe and all simple weapons.
- +5 natural armor bonus.
- Natural Weapons : Gore (1d8).
- Special Attacks (see above) : Powerful charge.
- Special Qualities (see above) : Natural cunning, Scent.
- Automatic Languages : Common, Giant. Bonus Languages: Orc, Goblin, Terran.
- Favored Class: Barbarian
- Level adjustment +2.