Maître des Cassoni Campana, La légende crétoise en quatre compositions, 1500-1525

“On the Ariadne thread of his thinking he begins to search for the Minotaur” and, when he does not find it, to ask whether there is a Minotaur at all. If not, why is there a labyrinth? Finally he comes to the realization that Theseus himself is the Minotaur and that every attempt to overcome this world by thinking is a battle where one engages oneself: “I am my enemy, you are yours”
Theodore Ziolkowski, Minos and the Moderns. Cretan Myth in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art

Theseus raised his sword to kill, he recognized his shadow self in the minotaur and became aware of the magnitude of his deed.
Heide M. Kolb

Theseus and Minotauros, Etienne Jules Ramey, 1826
Theseus and Minotauros, Antonio Canova, 1781-83
Theseus and Minotauros, Antoine Louis Barye, 1840

The bulls and their victors just seem to swap places, over and over, as if for them the process of killing and being killed was as simple alternation as undressing and getting dressed again.
Roberto Calasso, The marriage of Cadmus and Harmony


Maître des Cassoni Campana, Les amours de Pasiphaé, 1510-1520
1) King Minos of Crete is assumed to sacrifice a white Bull sent by Poseidon. 2) Minos thinks that it is better to sacrifice another bull which is killed 3) sacrificed. 4, 5) The punishment : Poseidon caused Minos's wife Pasiphae to fell in love with the bull. The result was her son Minotauros.
picture from Picta Poetis, Barthelemy Aneau (1552)   
Dodaj napis
Pasiphae enters in Daedalus wooden cow, Giulio Romano c.1530

Pasiphae and the White Bull / photo from performance
But angry at him for not sacrificing the bull, Poseidon made the animal savage, and contrived that Pasiphae should conceive a passion for it. In her love for the bull she found an accomplice in Daedalus, an architect, who had been banished from Athens for murder. He constructed a wooden cow on wheels, took it, hollowed it out in the inside, sewed it up in the hide of a cow which he had skinned, and set it in the meadow in which the bull used to graze. Then he introduced Pasiphae into it; and the bull came and coupled with it, as if it were a real cow. And she gave birth to Asterius, who was called the Minotaur. He had the face of a bull, but the rest of him was human; and Minos, in compliance with certain oracles, shut him up and guarded him in the Labyrinth
Apollodorus, Library and Epitome 3.1.4

Pasiphae and the Minotaur. Tondo of an Attic red-figure kylix, 340-320 BC. From Vulci.
 Pasiphae with Minotauros / photo from performance

It is the island where no one lives, the place where obsession turns round and round on itself, with no way out. A constant flaunting of death. This is a place of the soul.
Ariadne has been left behind. The clothes fall from her body one by one. It is a scene of mourning. Awake now, but still as the statue of a Bacchant, Minos’ daughter gazes into the distance toward the eternal absentee, for Theseus’ swift ship has already disappeared over the horizon, and her mind rises and falls with the waves. (...) her cloak falls away leaving her chest bare, her breasts are no longer supported by their sash...

Ariadne, Evelyn de Morgan, 1877
Ariadne, John Vanderlyn, 1808-12
Ariadne, Herbert James Draper, 1905

The queen, the all-splendid, shameless Pasiphae, her mother (..) shut up in her wooden cow, that awkward, clumsy, colored toy on wheels, had agreed to play servant to a mere herdsman. She had bent her neck to let them put her in the yoke, she had whispered words of love to a dumb bull chomping grass. Hidden in the suffocating dark, in the smell of the wood, the herdsman’s pipes got on her nerves, because there was only one sound she wanted to hear: the lowing of that white bull.
Then another thought occurred to Ariadne, a thought that followed from the first: if she, Ariadne, had done nothing more than repeat the passion of her mother, Pasiphae, if she herself was Pasiphae, then Theseus was the bull. But Theseus had killed the bull, her half brother, and killed him with her help. So had she been helping Theseus to kill himself? Or were the only people to get killed in this story themselves: Pasiphae, who hung herself, Ariadne, who was preparing to hang herself, and her sister, Phaedra, who would hang herself some time later?
Roberto Calasso, The marriage of Cadmus and Harmony