One of the most famous–and famously notorious–figures in ancient Greek mythology, the Minotaur was a creature described by the Roman poet Ovid as being:
“Part man and part bull;” the accursed offspring of a treacherous Cretan king’s wife and sacred bull.
Cast into the center of a labyrinth engineered by the famed duo Icarus and Daedalus, the Minotaur would eventually die at the hands of Theseus, but far outlast the hero’s own legacy.
From its Classical origins right up through the Renaissance era and present interpretations, the Minotaur is more than just a monster, but a representation of the complex and often terrifying darkness that dwells deep within all of us–at the center of the psychological “labyrinth,” so to speak. Sharing the mind and strength of both man and beast, this creature is pure, awe-inspiring force.
While traditional illustrations reveal a figure with the body of a man and head of a bull, modern representations, such as those found in Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology,” depict a centaur-like creature with a bull’s body but man’s head and torso. For this reason there are numerous tattoo interpretations to select from when finding the right Minotaur design.
But why, you may ask, would anyone want to commit this grotesque creature to the flesh? Aside from its unforgettable appearance, the Minotaur is a dramatic symbol of light and dark, good and evil, and the overwhelming strength it takes to conquer one while balancing the other. We humans love our monsters, but seldom trouble ourselves to better understand them. The man who chooses a Minotaur tattoo isn’t just looking to shock his viewers with a fantastic creation, but invoke an understanding and awareness concerning his own primitive, dark-dwelling nature; kept under wraps, perhaps, but always waiting within.