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Cretan Bull

by Ron Leadbetter
The seventh labor took Heracles outside of the Peloponnese to Crete. The task was to capture a savage bull which had extraordinary strength and ferocity. (There are many variations to whether it was the bull that galloped over the waves carrying Europa to the island, or the wonderful beast Pasiphae, the wife of Minos, king of Crete, fell in love with, and with her sired the Minotaur).

When Heracles reached the island of Crete, the king, Minos, gave full approval to Heracles to capture and take the menacing bull back to Eurystheus, since it had caused havoc as it roamed freely throughout his domain. To capture the bull the hero made a lasso, and then chased the great beast until it weakened, throwing the lasso over the bulls head. Then, calming the beast into submission, Heracles leapt on to the bull's back and rode the creature across the sea to the palace of Eurystheus.

Heracles presented the bull to Eurystheus, who, on seeing the magnificent beast, wanted to sacrifice it to Hera. The goddess who disliked the hero, refused the offering, saying it reflected glory on the deeds of Heracles, so the bull was released to run wild in Greece. Later it reached the plains of Marathon, where it was captured by Theseus. It was said that Theseus took pride in doing deeds in the pattern of his great kinsman.


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