|t h e c l a s s i c s p a g e s l e t t e r s
Dear Loxias: I am looking for interpretations of meaning in the story of Theseus and the Minotaur. It's true that I'm a little slow; however, there does not seem to be any greater moral implication in the story (the way there seems to be, say, with Icarus or Oedipus). I would also be interested in any references to Theseus in literature, plays, films, etc. Thanks for any help you can give. And thank you for your wonderful website.
|We all have a labyrinth inside our heads - a complex structure, but rational. The Cretan labyrinth was designed by a man, Daedalus, who alone really understood it. Every labyrinth, alas, also contains its own irrational horror, its own Minotaurs - which it is our life's mission to seek and destroy, before they destroy us. Within the order of the atom there exists an unknowable and mysterious world of sub-atomic particles. Labyrinths are everywhere! New York is one. Your school, your company, your family are all examples of rational structures containg the unfathomable elements of chaos and unreason.
On a less profound level the bull is the ultimate symbol of male power (it has two horns on its head to advertise the one beneath its belly) - which human males haave always regarded as a threat and a challenge. Most other animals are less well-endowed for their size than the human male - but the bull flaunts his superiority. It is something they must seek to confront and destroy (as the Spanish literally do in a bullfight). How many men spend their lives fighting and competing, hustling and dealing to prove to the world that they too have a viable endowment? In an age of plummeting sperm-counts, this is a very serious problem indeed!
Further study? Look at Picasso's amazing series of Minotaur pictures. Read the Bull from the Sea by Mary Renault. Read Hemingway.