Birth of a Minotaur
Shadows slid along the wall. Monstrous shapes, caught in the flare of candlelight. She heard the moaning cries of the women, heads covered, ashes scratched into sun darkened faces.
Death. They expected death.
Ariadne pressed herself into a corner. Silent, huddled. If she saw Thanatos coming she would act. Throw herself in his path, a willing offering to save her mother’s life. Death would not, could not take her.
The Queen’s engorged belly pulsed, rippled. A terrible cry tore from her throat, echoed round the room. In the fields by the shore the King’s bull roared in bestial response. The sound rolled out across the seething ocean like thunder.
The gods were moving. Ariadne could smell it in the rain thick air, in the gathering of the night. Strange happenings were afoot. Death stalked the Queen silently, invisible, his skeletal hand cupping the huge convulsing belly.
She will not die.
Another roar and then there was blood, so much blood. The women screamed, the midwife held the wet, dark-stained body to flickering candle light. It moved.
Alive. But twisted, deformed.
The Queen stirred weakly on the soaking pallet. Reached out. With trembling hands the midwife handed the babe to its mother, all the while staring away, unable to meet the Queen’s eye.
“A boy?” The Queen whispered.
The midwife took a step back, her hand moving as if to fend off a dark curse. “An abomination!”
And that is when Ariadne saw her brother’s head. His broad snout. His dark, blinking eyes.
|The Minotaur as depicted by Sara Fanelli|
Tonight I was reading my daughter stories from her favourite book, Sara Fanelli's Mythological Monsters of Ancient Greece.... cue lots of questions about the Minotaur. That got me thinking about what it would be like to be part of a family in which such a birth occurred and particularly about the impact on Ariadne - who would go on to ensure his death at the hands of Theseus.
Sibling rivalry? Revulsion at the knowledge her mother Pasiphae had slept with a bull?
This microfiction describes the moment of the Minotaur's birth, witnessed by the young Ariadne who has no concept of the implications of her half-brother's arrival.