Cook, Arthur B.
Zeus: a study in ancient religion (Band 1): Zeus god of the bright sky — Cambridge, 1914

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' Minoan ' Bull-fights


xvi. ' Minoan ' Bull-fights.

Few features of the 'Minoan' civilisation are more striking
than its devotion to the bull-ring. Statuettes, reliefs, paintings,
and seal-stones make it abundantly clear that toreadors, male and
female, played an important part in the life of their people. The
evidence, which comes to us from Crete, Mykenai, Tiryns, Vaphio,
Orchomenos, Athens, etc., has been recently classified and discussed
by A. Reichel1. This careful investigator thinks that the sport
originated in Crete, and distinguishes three stages in its evolution.
Its earliest form was the capture of a bull by one or more unarmed
men, who clung tenaciously to its horns2. Out of this developed
the favourite ' Minoan ' display, an acrobatic performance calling
for the utmost nerve and dexterity. It comprised various feats, of
which the most popular was the following. The athlete rushed
towards the charging bull, grasped it by the horns, turned a somer-
sault over its head, and letting go with his hands was shot over its
back into safety3. Many centuries later a less hazardous form
of bull-baiting is found in the Thessalian taurokathdpsia4-. The
toreador on horseback pursued the bull till it was exhausted, and

1 A. Reichel 'Die Stierspiele in der kretisch-mykenischen Cultur' in the Ath. Mitth.
[909 xxxiv. 85—99 with figs, and pi.

2 Two terra-cotta figures of the ' Early Minoan' period found by Xanthoudides at
Koumasa near Gortyna (A. Mosso The Palaces of Crete and Their Builders London 1907
p. 219 fig. 99, A. Reichel loc. cit. p. 93 nos. 18 and i9 = fig. 11).

With these may be compared the capture of the big bull by a posse of men in Lanzone
Dizion. di Mitol. Egiz. pi. 206.

:1 A. Reichel loc. cit. pp. 85—88 nos. 1—6.

4 The literary and monumental evidence of the TavpoK<xda\pt.a is collected by J. Baunack
in the Rhein. Mus. 1883 xxxviii. 297 ff., M. Mayer in the Jahrb. d. kais. deutsch. arch.
Inst. 1892 vii. 72—Si (cp. Journ. Hell. Stud.
1894 xiv. 127 ff.), M. N. Tod in the Ath.
Mitth. 1904 xxix. 50—56, and E. Cahen in
Daremberg—Saglio Diet. Ant. v. 50—52.

Fifth-century coins of Larissa have obv.
a Thessalian youth, who grasps a plunging
bull by the horns, and rev. a bridled and
galloping horse (fig. 360 from a specimen in
my collection, cp. Babelon Monn. gr. rom. ii. Fig. 360.

1. 1013 ff. pi. 43, 8—12, Brit. Mus. Cat. Coins

Thessaly etc. p. 25 ff. pis. 4, 12 f., 5, 1—4). Since a fourth-century drachm of the same
town shows obv. a mounted Thessalian galloping, and rev. a bull in full flight (Brit.
Mus. Cat. Coins Thessaly etc. p. 29 pi. 5, 13), it seems probable that on all these
coins of Larissa we should combine the two types and recognise scenes from the
TtxvpoKadaxpia (G. Macdonald Coin Types Glasgow 1905 p. 99 pi. 3, 10, Head Hist, num?
p. 298 f.). Similar scenes occur on coins of Krannon, the Perrhaiboi, Pharkadon, Pherai,
Skotoussa, and Trikke (see Babelon op. cit. ii. 1. 1021 f. pi. 43, 16; 1023 ff. pi. 43,
17—20; 1029 ff. pi. 43, 25; 1031 f. pi. 43, 29; Brit. Mus. Cat. Coins Thessaly etc.
p. 16 pi. 2, 11 f. j p. 39 pi. 8, 7; p. 42 pi. 9, 1 f.; p. 46 pi. io, 1—3; p. 51 f. pi. 11, 5—7
and 12),

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