In Greek mythology, the Minotaur is a monstrous double, sometimes with the head of a bull and the body of a man or, conversely, with the body of a bull and the head of a man.
This creature was born of Pasiphae, Minos' wife, the king of Crete and a white bull sent by Poseidon who was angry with Minos. Minos was so disgusted and embarrassed by his wife and the Minotaur that he ordered Daedalus to hide them. Daedalus built a maze called the Labyrinth where they were to live and never escape.
One of Minotaur's half brothers ordered that seven youths and seven maidens from Athens be let into the maze every ninth year to feed the Minotaur. The Minotaur survived by capturing and eating these youngsters because they could not find their way out of the maze.
The Minotaur is linked to the cult of the bull and the double axe in the primitive tribes of Crete.
The myth of the Minotaur centers on the white bull, imprisoned in the labyrinth at Crete, which was created from the sea by Poseidon. Being neither fully human, animal, or god, the ambiguity of the figure of the Minotaur placed it outside the conventional bounds of norms of morals and reason. The monstrous double became important to the European surrealist movement because its mythology inscribed both the violence of the last sacrificial rites and cultural alterity (part bull/part man) as the foundational text of western society.
Albert Skeer's review, Minotaure, which appeared from 1933 to 1939, was not only an extraordinary demonstration of the surrealist imagination, but, in its privileging of the mythic figure of the minotaur as the principal theme of its covers (by Derain, Bores, Duchamp, Ernst, Miro, Dali, Matisse, Magritte, Masson, and Rivera).
Theseus was aided by one of Minos' daughters, Ariane, who gave Theseus a magical ball of thread, made by Daedalus, to retrace his path once he found and killed the Minotaur.
Theseus was successful in his attempt in killing the Minotaur and escaping the Labyrinth. On the way back, Theseus abandoned Ariane on Naxos Island and provoked the death of his father, Egeus, because he forgot to put a white sail on his boat. Seeing a black sail, the king believed that his son has failed and been killed and in sign of despair throw himself into the sea.