Island of the Minotaur: The Greek Myths of Ancient Crete

Overview

Island of the Minotaur weaves together the famous and forgotten myths of the mysterious Minoans of Crete. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions destroyed their island empire, but their clever puzzles and riddling tales were rescued by the Greeks and became an essential part of Greek mythology. These tales are now retold in this exciting book as one continuous story.

Here is the Minotaur roaring in its Labyrinth, winged Icarus flying towards the sun and Theseus struggling with the ...

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Overview

Island of the Minotaur weaves together the famous and forgotten myths of the mysterious Minoans of Crete. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions destroyed their island empire, but their clever puzzles and riddling tales were rescued by the Greeks and became an essential part of Greek mythology. These tales are now retold in this exciting book as one continuous story.

Here is the Minotaur roaring in its Labyrinth, winged Icarus flying towards the sun and Theseus struggling with the deadly witch Medea, as he tries to save his father and all Athens from her poisonous spell. Here are the Ash Tree Spirits, Talus the Bronze Giant, and Phaedra, the last great Queen of Crete and doomed Atlantis. Here, too, is Sir Arthur Evans who, thousands of years later, discovers and solves the buried secrets of the Minoans so they can finally be told today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
And speaking of Greece, Island of the Minotaur: Greek Myths of Ancient Crete by Sheldon Oberman, illus. by Blair Drawson, maintains many of the frightful elements of the original tales, particularly Cronos devouring his children (a full-page illustration shows the moment before the event), Queen Pasiphae's implied rape by the Great White Bull and the gruesome deaths of Androgeus and his father King Minos. Drawson's illustrations aptly communicate the tales' haunting otherworldliness. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Crete offers an effective site to stage the Greek myths, although a few figures assume unusual importance here. An informative introduction connects the myths with the political struggles between Minoans and Greeks, and a few details about Cretan history and ritual are worked into the stories. In 13 tales, Oberman covers the high spots, whether indirectly (creation, Jason and Medea) or as a main event: Cronos, Zeus, Europa, Minos, Theseus, Daedalus, and Icarus. Chapters are linked for narrative impetus, but background is repeated when necessary so that each tale is self-contained. The author adds fairy-tale touches and soft-pedals the brutality. There are some omissions (Persephone, Psyche, Atalanta, Artemis, Orpheus, and Eurydice are among the missing). The myths end with the destruction of Thera (Atlantis), followed by an account of Arthur Evans's discovery of Knossos. The glossary is good, but gives no pronunciation help. Colorful illustrations punctuate the large pages of text, but are not in the mode of the narrative. The nonhuman figures are modern and gripping, with a Picasso-esque bull and a mazelike background to the Minotaur, for instance. Human figures are cartoonishly distorted, with little effort to use Minoan motifs, dress, artifacts, etc. While the author takes the stories seriously, the illustrator somewhat undercuts them. Nevertheless, the discordant pages are relatively few. This volume should compete successfully with the many myth retellings available.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Weaving across the boundaries between myth and history, Oberman connects 13 Crete-centered tales from unspecified sources into a series of related episodes. He opens with the birth of Zeus on (actually, within) Mount Dicte; ends with Theseus's forcible removal of Queen Phaedra after the immense volcanic explosion that probably brought an end to the Minoan civilization; and in between includes the battle between the Titans and the Olympian gods, the tale of Europa and the bull, the arrival of the bronze giant Talus and its defeat by Medea (who is thoroughly villainized here), and Daedalus's flight. Finally, he closes with a tantalizingly odd encounter between Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist, and a trio of Cretan women. Because Oberman veils the sex-the Minotaur is born after Poseidon's white bull "attacked and terrified" Queen Pasiphae in her bedchamber-while weaving in wooden, invented dialogue and details, the tales aren't particularly authentic, and Drawson's blocky caricatures are distractingly weird. Still, the unusual theme of this collection, and its historical links to the still-mysterious Minoans, will draw students of these ancient stories. (glossary of names) (Folktales. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566565318
  • Publisher: Crocodile Books
  • Publication date: 12/28/2003
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 822,666
  • Age range: 10 - 13 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.86 (w) x 10.84 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 5
Tale 1 The Curse of Cronos 8
Tale 2 Zeus and the Olympians 16
Tale 3 Europa's Wish 22
Tale 4 The Bronze Giant 28
Tale 5 The Will of Zeus 34
Tale 6 The Great White Bull 40
Tale 7 The Puzzle of Daedalus 46
Tale 8 The Deadly Quest of Androgeus 50
Tale 9 Theseus and the Minotaur 56
Tale 10 The Flight of Daedalus and Icarus 72
Tale 11 King Minos Seeks Revenge 78
Tale 12 The Giant Wave, the Cloud of Death 84
Tale 13 Discovering a Lost World 92
Glossary of Names and Places 97
Afterword 104
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