The Cretan Bull

With stoic patience, Hercules endured the bull's rage outbursts many times during their journey and managed to stay calm and confine the beast without killing it...

At the sunrise, standing by the gate of Tiryns, Eurystheus looked annoyed. "You may have been favoured by the gods in your trials so far, but now you have to travel to Crete, the dominion of Minos, and fetch the Cretan Bull alive. Beware, the Bull is sacred to Poseidon and should not be harmed. You must bring him right here’’ he pointed with his finger on the ground, ‘‘and I, standing where I am now, will consider this Labor done." Eurystheus was sure that this brute man wouldn't have the restraint required to carry the fearsome animal without harming it - he would either have to kill it and make a new -immortal- enemy, or be killed by the beast's monstrous temperament. In either case, the Labor would not be completed, he thought. The King smiled to himself as the hero walked away.

Hercules was received by the Cretan King warmly. "You are here to correct my life's greatest mistake and I am thankful for that" King Minos said with a worried look on his face. "And what may that be, great King of Crete?" "The Bull you are set to capture was a gift offered to me by Poseidon. It was actually the means for me to ascend to this very throne I'm sitting on right now; for when there was a dispute over the rightful heir to the throne, right after King Asterion departed, I rose above all others as a chosen of the gods.

I offered a sacrifice and asked the gods to send me the sacrificial bull and thus he came, riding through the waves of the sea, the most splendid bull anyone had ever seen. The elders immediately recognised the godly sign and coroneted me, but I could not bring myself to put that wonderful animal's throat to the blade. Thus I sacrificed another bull in its place and had it join my herds. But just a day later, the bull was struck with madness, undoubtedly a godly retribution to my infidelity. From then on, Poseidon’s bull ravages the countryside and makes my people miserable. I plead you to arrest the bull and take him away from my lands." Those were the words Minos told him before setting him on the sacred bull's trail.

Hercules followed the trail of ruin left by the bull and it wasn’t long until he met with the bull face to face. Man and beast wrestled and after hours of combat the hero emerged victorious. The white bull, exhausted but in otherwise perfect health, let himself be lifted by the powerful hero and carried away to Peloponnese. With stoic patience, the hero had to endure the bull's rage outbursts many times during their journey and managed to stay calm and confine the beast without killing it. When he met Eurystheus outside Tiryns's walls, he placed the subdued bull on the ground in front of the King and thus his second Labor was complete. Eurystheus left the site cursing angrily under his breath, trying to think of a Labor that would really spell the hero's demise. His task now accomplished, Hercules walked away and the bull rose and started running, free once more.

As the veil of night covered the land, Hercules was approached by the silent night spirits. This time he was carried through a labyrinth he had never seen before, its corridors lit by strangely glowing torches. At the labyrinth's center, a huge man was sitting on a throne. The man rose as the hero approached and even he, the great Hercules felt dwarfed by his luminous presence. The man introduced himself as Asterion, the old King of Crete. "But you may know me under other names too, bold son. Setting wrongs right, your resolve has prevailed over every brute instinct and powerful emotion. Your task is done, tamer of the beast of untethered feelings." A bolt of lightning flashed in front of him, and the dream ended.