• Aries:Capture the golden hide of Artemis
  • Taurus:Capture the Cretan Bull
  • Gemini:Slay the 9-headed Hydra
  • Cancer:Obtain Geryon's cattle
  • Leo:Slay the Hermean Lion
  • Virgo:Clean the Augean stables in one day
  • Libra:Capture Cerberus alive
  • Scorpio:Steal Hippolyta's girdle
  • Sagittarius:Steal Hesperide's apples
  • Capricorn:Capture the Mares of Diomedes
  • Aquarius:Slay Stymphalian birds
  • Pisces:Capture Erymanthian boar

Minoan Bull-Leaping

Bull-leaping (also taurokathapsia, greek ταυροκαθάψια  “laying hold of the bull”). ταῦρος (taûros, “bull”) +  κατα (kata, “across”) + ἅπτομαι (háptomai, “touch, reach”).

The Cretan bulls were believed to have been a breed of Auroch, a bovine that had a shoulder height of about 6 feet. Sadly by about the 5th century BC it was already extinct in Greece.

The Aurochs by Heinrich Harder (1858-1935)

Suggested by:  analyzercynicfaerie-queen-aine: “Minoans” and “Crete”

Bull Worship

In the Minoan culture bulls were an important symbol, they make appearances in many of the famed Minoan frescoes that adorn the walls of their palaces and are featured in almost every form of art available. Walls, jewelry, vases, rhyta and statues often depict either the image of a bull or bull-leaping.

Greek ῥυτόν, plural Rhyta “pour, flow, stream”)

These vessels while they were used to dink from, they were also used in blood ceremonies. Afamous example of Cretan rhyton artistry is the Bull’s Head Rhyton found in the city of Knossos, dated c. 1450-1400 BC. The Bull’s head Rhyton was too heavy for casual use, weighing between 1 kg to 3 kg empty (2.2 - 6.6 lbs.) and so they are believed to have been used in rituals. This rhyta would’ve had liquids poured into its neck and when tilted, the liquids would pour out of its mouth.

It is believed that some of these rhyta were used for animal sacrifices in which they would carry the blood of the animal that was slain. Sometimes the vessels would be fashioned after the animal they would hold the blood of. This may point to the Bull’s Head rhyton’s use as a ritualistic vessel used in the sacrifice of bulls.

Hagia Triada  14th cent BC 

(Right) Depicts cattle being prepared for sacrifice
(Left) Depicts what appears to be a rhyta filled with blood being poured by women into an altar.

The Hagia Triada ‘Boxer Rhyton’ depicts boxing, wrestling and bull-leapers with one that appears to have been gored by the horns of a bull.

Bull head necklaces


“It is often interpreted as a depiction of a ritual performed in connection with bull worship. This ritual consists of an acrobatic leap over a bull; when the leaper grasps the bull’s horns, the bull will violently jerk his neck upwards giving the leaper the momentum necessary to perform somersaults and other acrobatic tricks or stunts. A difficult and dangerous acrobatic feat, bull-leaping is frequently shown in Minoan art, and probably formed a part of ritual activity.

The strength and potency of bulls perhaps lay behind their religious importance to the Minoans. It seems highly unlikely that an acrobat could grasp a bull’s horns and use the toss of its head to flip over onto its back, because of the unpredictability of the bull’s movements. Perhaps in reality the bulls were restrained or even tamed.

Certainly some Minoan representations show bulls being captured, tethered and led, as well as apparently being held by the horns. 
It is probable that the Minoans put considerable effort and long experience into the sport, and were able to achieve dramatic effects. Even so, the possibility of some artistic license in the representations should not be discounted.”

Bull leaping Fresco

The famous Bull-leaping fresco, from the palace at Knossos, depicts a critical moment in the event.

Some bull-leaping frescoes are seen as depicting a sequence of movements of a man leaping over a bull, while others are seen as two women (which were painted lighter) flanking a bull as the man somersaults /handsprings over it. Another view is that the woman on the left is holding the bull by the horns, possibly subduing it or holding it in place while the male at its center is balancing / hand standing on the bull’s back.

Minoan bull leaper

Crete, Minoan, about 1700-1450 BC

Object details
Height: 11.1 cm
Width: 4.7 cm
Depth: 15 cm

“Different leaps are represented. In this version the leaper is somersaulting over the bull’s head and landing with both feet on its back.”

“Above, an ivory figurine of a bull leaper was probably part of a three-dimensional composition depicting bull-leaping. Recovered from Knossos, it dates to the New Palace period, ca. 1600–1500 BC.”

Interpretations and Opinions

- Decorative and metaphorical
J. Alexander MacGillivray believes that these scenes are merely symbolic: “They suggest instead that the artistic depictions of bull- leaping are representations of a celestial drama. “Orion confronts Taurus, composed of the Hyades and Pleiades (the seven sisters), while Perseus somersaults with both arms extended over the bull’s back to rescue Andromeda.” Even if we were to suppose, reasonably, that the astrological traditions of the Near East were familiar to the Cretans, their existence alone would not be enough to dismiss bull-leaping as modern invention, or to read the scenes of bull-leaping as purely symbolic.”

- Cultural or religious event, maybe even as Sport
“Younger (1995) classifies bull-leaping depictions as follows:

Type I: the acrobat approaches the bull from the front, grabs the horns, and somersaults backwards

Type II: the acrobat approaches the bull from the front, dives over the horns without touching them and pushes himself with his hands from the bull’s back into a backward somersault

Type III: the acrobat is depicted in mid-air over the bull’s back, facing the same way as the animal”

“They are taken as evidence that a “sport” of bull-leaping did occur. The conclusion of Younger’s study sums up the connection between artistic representations and the performances they recall:”

^Bull Leaping restoration, Evan’s Schema

“In conclusion, bull-leaping begins to appear in artistic representations toward the beginning of the Late Bronze Age in Crete and on the Mainland.”

“The main system of performance probably followed that of the Diving Leaper Schema.”

^Bull Leaping restoration, Diving Leaper

“When bull-leaping itself was discontinued, perhaps towards the close of the LB IIIA or the beginning of the LB IIIB period, ca. 1340 BC, later representations depicted the leaper in the floating pose (Type III), a pose not copied directly from the sport.” – John Younger

Are the Minoan depictions of Bull-leaping impossible?
“The only compelling objection to the existence of real bull leaping, in fact, is the assertion that it is physically impossible, a claim often made in discussions of contemporary bull sports. Yet in the southwest of France, a version of bull-jumping is still practiced regularly in a form that is an almost exact parallel of the Minoan version: the course landaise.”

Modern Bull-leaping

Course Landaise is a modern bull-leaping sport practiced mostly in Northern Spain and Southern France.

^Dax, la Feria 2014 ! Course landaise du mercredi 13 août

Another variation of the Course Landaise is the saut de l’ange (“the angel’s leap”), which is often referenced as being similar to the way the Minoans depict.

^L'Incroyable Saut De L'ange (Recortadores)

“-the saut á pieds joints (“jump with feet tied together”), in which the leaper thrusts his legs forward while leaping vertically.”

^Dax, la Feria 2014 ! Course landaise du mercredi 13 août

“and the most difficult of all, the saut vrillé (“twisting jump”), in which the sauteur performs a pike while leaping.”

^Saut périlleux vrillé

• Athletes in course Landaise compete as a cuadrilla, or team, as in the Bull-Leaping Fresco.
• Sauteur, or leapers, are usually young men, as is the leaper in the fresco.
• In both instances, sauteurs leap directly over a charging bull.
• Sauteurs do not quite handspring over the bull, as the athlete in the fresco does. They do, however, perform different sorts of flips.
• The animals used in course Landaise are usually cows, not bulls.

Some more gifs:

^Bull Jumping - Inside the Human Body- Hostile World - BBC One

All of the gifs used in this post were made by me

British Museum
[PDF] Bulls and Bull-leaping in the Minoan World - University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology
Ancient Peoples - Tumblr

The Cretan Bull.

So the Cretan Bull was the most beautiful bull anyone had ever seen, right? and I had to capture it and bring it back to Greece from Crete. So I went over to Crete and asked King Minos for his help in getting the bull, he refused, but said if I could capture the thing without any help he would let me take it. Well I did. So I swam on it’s back to Greece and handed it over to Eurystheus who tried to dedicate it to Hera, but the bitch didn’t like that so she set the damned thing free! I mean, c'mon!


Printmaker & Artist:

Sustai Ulanbaagen

“Hercules and the Cretan Bull”

Hand Pulled Original Print on Japanese Paper

15" x 11" Inches 

Printed on Japanese Kozo Paper (Rice Tone)

“This is a most recently wood block print i made, it shows the scene when Hercules try to capture the Cretan bull, which is one of his 12 hero tasks.
I noticed when I am working on wood, I tend to over define the line work, and also the nature quality of woodcut is very even, plus together there is always a stiffness in my work. So for this image, I tried to keep some rough lines of the original drawing I made, and I drew directly on the panel, didn’t transfer the drawing onto it, so I kept some roughness of drawing instead of well designed neat woodcut line quality.
about the Chinese{or in Japanese Kanji (漢字) which is the same thing basically } title "赫氏扼牛圖”, directly translating will be : the picture of Hercules chocking the bull.“

Mythology Mondays this week will become Norse Tuesday, because I find that Norse myths take more background research (I have way fewer books on Norse mythology) and, as people have rightly pointed out, there is no point in me trying desperately to write to a self-enforced deadline when the likely outcome would be utter shit. So, please look out for that retelling tomorrow! Many apol to anyone who actually gave a shit.

If it mollifies you, here is a picture of a dandy Cretan Bull I found at the Louvre. I like his sassy cocked leg.


The Sacred Animals of Dionysos:

The bull (from Cretan religion) and goat (for the wineskin) and their “enemies”, the panther (or any big cat – after the Greeks colonized part of India, Shiva’s tiger sometimes replaced the traditional panther or leopard) and the serpent (probably derived from Sabazius, but also found in North African cults); in addition, the fawn/deer, fox, dolphin, lion, and the bee. The bull was another form of the god himself, the goat was connected to his satyrs, the panther was loved by the god for its grace and deadliness, and the snake was a symbol of Dionysos’ underworld connections as well as his cycle of death and rebirth through the mysteries. 

Text Source: and Me. 

Source: , , ,


Atlantis alphabet [ a - c ]

A is for Argo

Argo was the ship on which Jason and the Argonauts sailed from Iolcos to retrieve the Golden Fleece.

B is for Bull

In Greek mytholigy Bull has many meanings. I choose this: the Cretan Bull was the bull Pasiphaë fell in love with, giving birth to the Minotaur.

C is for Colchis.

Colchis was the home of Aeëtes, Medea, Golden Fleece, fire-breathing bulls Khalkotauroi and the destination of the Argonauts. Colchis is also thought to be the possible homeland of the Amazons.

External image

I am most proud to announce that the first 2 books in a new series by author Lucy Coats, published by Penguin, and illustrated by me has come out today!!!!

I will post a few pictures later of some of the inserts but I think these are charming good stories involving a pluckish young half god who gets roped into being the stable boy to the gods.  A great story that surrounds itself with ideas about friendships, treatment of animals, and doing what’s right. 

I have the pleasure and honor to make the covers and 24 black and white interiors pages in each book.  Volume 3 and 4 will be out later this year.

Check them out at your local bookstore or head over to look at a few pages at Amazon.


 Starred review for Beast Keeper from Publishers Weekly USA

In this rippingly funny first book in the Beasts of Olympus series, readers get an alternate perspective on classic Greek myths as Demon tends to the Cretan Bull, Hydra, and other creatures that have suffered at the hands of gods and heroes—especially Heracles (“Nice people did NOT go around pulling skins off poor innocent lions”). Bean’s dynamic cartoons amp up the comedy and drama, while a glossary and pronunciation guide round out a story that, underneath its fun, offers food for thought on everything from absentee parenting to the mistreatment of animals (even immortal ones).


forearm wrap Cretan bull…had so much fun with this one!! #nofilter #bulltattoo #minkasicklinger (at Three Kings Tattoo)

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