Minotaur by Phillip W. Simpson
Publication Date: September 29, 2015
“Where shall I start?” asked Minotaur.
Ovid made an expansive gesture with both hands. “Where else but the beginning of course.”
Minotaur nodded his huge head. “Yes,” he said. “Yes,” his eyes already glazing over with the weight of thousand year old memories. And then he began.
So begins the story of Asterion, later known as Minotaur, the supposed half bull creature of Greek legend. Recorded by the famous Roman poet, Ovid, Asterion tells of his boyhood in Crete under the cruel hand of his stepfather Minos, his adventures with his friend, Theseus, and his growing love for the beautiful Phaedra.And of course what really happened in the labyrinth.
This is the true story of the Minotaur.
Guest Post with Author Phillip W. Simspon: Origins of the Minotaur Myth
Monsters have been around since the dawn of time, maybe in the very real sense but always haunting the darkest recesses of our overactive imaginations. The monsters were waiting for us as we swung down from the trees and started walking upright. They were there when we discovered fire and the use of tools and primitive weapons. Hey, they were probably the reason we discovered fire and invented weapons in the first place.
“Our fear of monsters in the night probably has its origins far back in the evolution of our primate ancestors, whose tribes were pruned by horrors whose shadows continue to elicit our monkey screams in dark theaters.” (Shepard, 1996, p. 29)
I’ve always been fascinated by monsters, an interest and love nurtured by countless books on myth and legend. Fueled by my passion, I completed an undergrad degree in ancient history and then a masters in archaeology. My focus was always ancient Greece and in particular, their monsters.
My latest YA historical novel, Minotaur, is a reimagining of the ancient myth. Did the Minotaur exist? If so, was he the monster that the myths insist he was? In ancient Crete, bulls were venerated, almost godly. They were revered and worshipped. But did helpless youths get thrown into a labyrinth to be eaten by a hybrid monster? Who knows.
In the ruins of Knossos (where the labyrinth is purported to be), there are mosaics and sculptures of bulls. Some human figures appear to have bull-like heads. But were they the Minotaur or simply a man wearing a mask? Left in the dark for long enough, anyone will go mad. Starve him and he will eat anything. Perhaps this is how the legend started. King Minos would’ve encouraged such rumors to scare his enemies.
It is all too possible that the Minotaur was nothing but a deformed human or a human wearing a bull’s mask. And that’s where I was going with the Minotaur myth – trying to humanise it. Monsters with these human criteria, traits etc. are much more interesting. The monsters of ancient Greece were just that – monsters – existing solely for the hero/heroine to destroy. Who cared about their perspective, what they thought or felt? Ancient monsters were only slightly further up the food chain than the animals they mimicked, deserving of no more respect. I’ve taken the Minotaur of ancient Greece and given him a makeover based on my own modern perspective.
I hope he appreciates what I’ve done for him. Or maybe not. Perhaps he would rather be remembered as he was rather than what I want him to be. Who knows? Only time will tell. It’s only been a few thousand years.
I’m sure he can wait a few more.
ABOUT PHILLIP W. SIMPSON:
Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.
He received both his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology from the University of Auckland.
Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.
His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012.
He is represented by Vicki Marsdon at Wordlink literary agency.
When not writing, he works as a school teacher.
Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.
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