Saturday 27 June 2020

The Seventh Labour of Hercules (Greece, 1970)

A bit of detective work and image comparisons and I’m calling this as the Seventh Labour of old Herakles – forcing the raging bull from Crete. (I’m happy to be corrected if you think it’s a different story…)

Minos, King of Crete, on a power trip, asked Poseidon for a signal of his right to rule. Poseidon sent a snow-white bull on the basis that it would then be sacrificed. Minos thought the bull was too cool to kill so sacrificed a slightly shabbier one. By way of punishment, Poseidon contrived for Minos’ wife Pasiphaë to fall in love with the uber-bull, because myths. Pasiphaë gave birth to a human-bovine crossover baby now known as the Minotaur.

The bull, meanwhile, filled with the rage of Poseidon, laid waste to Crete. Herakles was sent to capture the bull – which he duly did before continuing on with his labours.

The bull continued his career of destruction in the city of Marathon (picking up the nickname Marathonian Bull to go with Cretan Bull). One rampaging incident sparked an eight year war between Athens and Crete. Future episodes featured cameos from Zeus, Theseus, a wise woman called Hecale and the quest through the labyrinth to track down the Minotaur.

It’s a rainy Saturday afternoon here and, after this stamp, I might just get myself a swords-and-sandals epic to watch on TV..

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