We've taken to calling articles or columns that don't explicitly talk about farm life as 'Word Articles'. Please enjoy this Word Article as much as we did.
This last patch of cloudy, cold weather left me for once with some time on my hands and the opportunity to do a bit of reading. Ordinarily. I wouldn't think of reporting on this sort of thing but I was reproached by one of my constant readers for my off-handed allusion in an earlier column to Duke Theseus and the Minotaur, and so it seemed that another of those great old tales has temporarily dropped off the hit parade and needed to be reintroduced. I must say I spent a few delightful hours catching up on some of the more scandalous doings and the Who-was-married-to-whom's of ancient Greece.
Now you may think that every-body around here is related to everybody else but you ain't seen nothing yet - not until you start to mix in the Greek gods and goddesses who got around in the most amazing way and with the most amazing results.
Take the minotaur, now. He was what you might call bull-headed and as far as his personality went, he didn't have any. In fact, he had the friendliness of a Jersey bull on a difficult day but instead of being a vegetarian he insisted on steak but I'm getting ahead of myself.
This minotaur was the offspring of Pasiphae, who happened to be married to the king of Crete, where they all lived, but the king of Crete. whose name was Minos, didn't claim any responsibility for the child. What had happened -and here is where the gods get involved - was that Minos had been quite anxious to be king of Crete but there were a few others who also fancied the job. Nobody in those days had thought of having an election to ensure the choice of the least-qualified. Minos, in order to prove that he could roll the pork barrel better than any one else (things haven't changed all that much) called on Poseidon to send him a bull from the ocean.
What exactly Minos thought this was going to do for him I really can't say. Poseidon was of course the god of the local hake fishery and spent a lot of time wading about up to his neck in the ocean and waving a trident. As far as I know he really wasn't into animal husbandry. Anyway, Poseidon rooted around among the hake and turned up this really beautiful bull and, by dint of some quick jabs in the brisket with his trident, sent it boiling out of the ocean to the waiting Minos. Right then everybody knew that Minos was just the person they wanted for king. As I say, things haven't changed all that much.
Anyway, Minos had made a deal with this Poseidon and the deal was that if old Pos. would turn up a really classy bull in time for Minos's big political rally then he (Minos) would sacrifice the bull to Poseidon and all would be well. The logic of all this totally escapes me since the bull belonged to Pos. in the first place and if he wanted him back why didn't he just come along to the rally and lead him home again when the point had been made?
Of course Minos knew a good bull when he saw one and this one was obviously going to be worth its weight in gold when the A.I. service got rolling. Why ignore a sure thing? So Minos did one of those hey-presto changes and, tucking P's bull away in a back corner of the barn, he produced for sacrifice an old scrub that nobody in his right mind would want as a gift and he sacrificed it with all the ceremonies appropriate to the occasion, and congratulated himself on a shrewd bit of business.
Now the problem with the gods is that they tend to find out about these little peccadilloes and then there's trouble. In this case Poseidon was not pleased about being diddled out of his bull and hit upon a nasty scheme to get back at Minos. How would you like to be known as the only king in five counties whose wife had given birth to a child with the head of a bull? Well that's what Minos received for the reward of his sharp practice, and it served him right, it seems to me. But I can see that we're going to have to spend another column or so to find out how all this is going to come out.
Please check back next week to read part 2 of this story!
Words & Images
We moved to our farm in Sussex, New Brunswick from Toronto in 1977, only moving away in 2014.