The Cretan Bull

The seventh of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.

According to Acusilaus, this bull was the same as the one which had carried Europa across the sea; according to others, he had been sent out of the sea by Poseidon, that Minos might sacrifice him to the god of the sea. But Minos was so charmed with the beauty of the animal, that he kept it, and sacrificed another in its stead. Poseidon punished Minos, by making the fine bull mad, and causing it to make great havoc in the island.

Heracles was ordered by Eurystheus to catch the bull, and Minos, of course, willingly allowed him to do so. Heracles accomplished the task, and brought the bull home on his shoulders, but he then set the animal free again. The bull now roamed about through Greece, and at last came to Marathon, where we meet it again in the stories of Theseus.

Previous labor: The Stymphalian Birds.
Next labor: The Mares of Diomedes.



  • Diodorus Siculus, iv, 13 ff.
  • Hyginus. Fabulae, 30.
  • Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 27.9; v, 10.2.
  • Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library ii, 5.7.
  • Servius on Virgil's Aeneid viii, 294.
  • Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.

This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.