Once, there was a king of Crete named Minos.
Minos tends to fade into the background in this story, being overshadowed by his wife Pasiphaë. – a ding-a-ling by the standards of any age.
Word has it Pasiphaë developed a crush on a white bull sent by the Gods (Poseidon, to be exact,) which is pushing it even for a ding-a-ling, but would doubtlessly work as the plot for an artistic movie from Europe that the critics loved and the general American public never knew existed or cared about; aside from a few people into bestiality and the occasional film student.
Ahem, I digress.
Myself, I don't see the attraction. Perhaps in addition to a tendency to eat grass and shit huge mounds of stinking inconveniences on the carpet while wreaking havoc on pottery, the bull had a sensitive side, which appealed to Minos' wife.
Regardless, Pasiphaë was so smitten by this gorgeous hunk of proto-pot roast in a white fur coat that she had Daedalus, an Athenian architect and engineer of some note build her a cow suit so that she could go have sweaty bovine fun with the object of her desire.
The details of the wedding night, well, let's not go there, shall we?
Anyway, nine months later, Pasiphaë, gave birth to a bouncing baby…
…ummmm, whatever it was, well, it was a boy.
A boy with the head of a bull, hopefully starting out as a hornless calf because in the days before epidurals, shooting a baby with horns on it's head out of your average human birth canal would put off even the biggest The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fan.
Anyway, the boy, um calf, um, whatever, grew up, taking after his old man.
The bull, not Minos.
Why Minos put up with this excerpt from The Jerry Springer Show, one never knows: perhaps as his romantic rival was a gift from the Gods, Minos just drank a lot and looked the other way whenever Pasiphaë went skipping down the streets outside his palace, hand and brass nose ring with her baby daddy while the Minotaur (Junior) ate flowers from people's window boxes…
…until Junior got big enough to be a public menace.
After too many complaints from the neighbors (who doubtlessly owned pottery shops and paid taxes,) Minos put his foot down and commissioned Daedalus (Remember Daedalus?) to build a huge labyrinth to keep his wife's bizarre lovechild in – after all the Child was related to a gift from the Gods, Minos couldn't just have him led to the nearest slaughterhouse and disposed of once he reached market weight… which led to another little issue that was solved by regularly feeding Junior with seven Athenian youths and a corresponding number of Athenian maidens...
However, I digress; did you know that legends have a way of showing you what really happened in an oblique way?
Ahem, let's try that again…
King Minos of Crete had a palace on the island of Thera.
So when the Messenger of the Gods, with his serpentine hair and masked face told him to commission the Athenian architect and engineer Daedalus to build a huge underground labyrinth of many twists and turns without light beneath this palace – well King Minos, who valued his throne, did.
So when the labyrinth was completed on time but not on budget, the Messenger of the Gods presented King Minos with a large gray egg, telling him to leave it along with his wife, Pasiphaë, in the center of the labyrinth.
Still a shrewd ruler, Minos complied - what Pasiphaë had to say about the matter was doubtlessly lost in the explosion years later.
Regardless of how she may have felt about it, Pasiphaë gave birth deep underground a few days later, a birth that left her staring blindly up at a ceiling that would never see daylight as her newborn daughter, a Child of the Gods, hissed and raged, soaked in her mother's blood.
This daughter grew quickly, and being a good daughter, bore her parents and grandparents many descendants, borne of seven Athenian youths and seven Athenian maidens regularly supplied, each left staring blankly up at a ceiling that light would never touch – to be hunted by the Messenger of the Gods and his brothers – deep beneath the earth, followed by much feasting.
Eventually this daughter, bored with her home in the darkness, escaped to the world above, her children wreaking havoc at night, increasing tenfold as the people of Thera fled in terror - only to be dragged into the depths of the labyrinth...
King Minos hadn't minded it when the tribute was seven Athenian youths and seven Athenian maidens – they were no subjects of his. But when it became the entire island of Thera, a large, taxable portion of his kingdom, well, it became an issue.
Plus, his fine palace with its running water and flush toilets was now an unlivable hive of monsters with his wife's bastard child squatting and breeding in the middle of it all, seeing as the Athenian youth named Theseus whom he'd armed with a sword before sending him into the labyrinth, failed to come through as promised.
With this in mind, Minos pleaded with the Messenger of the Gods to do something, anything!
Meanwhile, the Messenger and his brothers had problems of their own: Pasiphaë's descendants were out of control – even going so far as devouring the Messenger's brothers one by one in their growing arrogance.
This would not do.
So the island of Thera with its once beautiful city of three story buildings, flush toilets, fine harbor, and fertile vineyards suddenly disappeared in a loud, earthshaking explosion, leaving behind a ring of volcanic islands in the Mediterranean that people now call Santorini, and tidal waves that were experienced as far away as coastal Egypt.
As for the Messenger of the Gods - well, he disappeared just before the explosion in a boat made of light and was never seen again.