Minotaur as Embryo
Michael Ayrton (British, 1921 – 1975)
DimensionsPlate : 13 1/2 x 21 1/2 in. (34.29 x 54.61 cm)
Mat : 30 x 36 in. (76.2 x 91.44 cm)
: 33 x 25 in. (83.82 x 63.5 cm)
Credit LineHope College Collection, purchased with funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. George Strumbos
LabelGreek myth says that the Minotaur was conceived from the lustful union of Queen Pasiphaë of Crete—herself the daughter of the Sun God Helios and the nymph Perseis—and a sacred white bull sent to Pasiphaë’s husband, King Minos, by the god Poseidon. In his 1967 novel The Maze Maker, Michael Ayrton wrote an imagined account of this scandalous event from the perspective of the court craftsman, Daedalus, who facilitated the consummation by creating a model of a cow in which Pasiphaë concealed herself to attract the bull. This print continues the story of the Minotaur’s conception by portraying him as an embryo or fetus snugly encased within his mother’s womb. The apparent innocence of the fetal Minotaur contrasts with the salacious nature of his origin story while the walls of the womb foreshadow the Minotaur’s later confinement within the Labyrinth.