What did the Cretan bull say to Hercules when the hero tamed him?

μ μ

(but the bull was real butch about it, and anyway that’s the Greek Way)

Meanwhile, the Greek letter mu is wide open for cow cartoons, like this recent one (from February 1st) by Scott Hilburn, passed on to me by Facebook friends:

(#1)

Note on cows. Versus bulls, or not, and on horns. From NOAD :

noun cow: [a] a fully grown female animal of a domesticated breed of ox, used as a source of milk or beef: a dairy cow. [b] (loosely) a domestic bovine animal, regardless of sex or age [hence, colloquial cows ‘cattle’].

Beyond that, cattle of both sexes are born with horns — though there are some breeds with hornless females, and dairy cows are generally dehorned in infancy.

Note on what cows say in Greek. Cows in Modern Greek go μου μου — just like cows in English going moo moo.

Note on pronouncing the name of the letter μ mu in Greek. From Wikipedia:

In Ancient Greek, the name of the letter was written μῦ and pronounced [mŷː] [the diacritics indicate tones]. In Modern Greek, the letter is spelled μι and pronounced [mi].

So Modern Greek cows going μ μ μ sound in fact like animals going [mi mi mi], like English me me me. On the other hand, English-speaking Greek cows uttering μ μ μ are going [mju mju mju] mew mew mew — or [mu mu mu] moo moo moo, if they’re more clasically inclined.

Two more versions of the μ-cow joke:

A 2/17/17 version from the dribble site:


(#2) “We run a weekly programming comic at comic.browserling.com. In this cartoon we illustrated Greek cows. Greek cows are different, they don’t say moo, they say μ. They’re super scientific.” Source here.

And from the Forbes magazine site on 3/11/17, an Andy Singer version:

(#3)

And then a charming variant by Christina Skelton in 2003, showing the development of the letter of the alphabet through the ages:

(#4)

Then to Hercules and the Cretan bull. Oh those Greeks! Ok, my play with Greek referring to anal intercourse above was a cheap shot. On to the myth, from Wikipedia:

In Greek mythology, the Cretan Bull (Greek: Κρὴς ταῦρος) was the bull Pasiphaë fell in love with, giving birth to the Minotaur.

Minos was king in Crete. In order to confirm his right to rule, rather than any of his brothers, he prayed Poseidon send him a snow-white bull as a sign. Poseidon sent Minos the bull, with the understanding that it would be sacrificed to the god. Deciding that Poseidon’s bull was too fine a specimen to kill, Minos sent it to his herds and substituted another, inferior bull for sacrifice. Enraged, Poseidon had Aphrodite cause Pasiphaë, wife of Minos, to fall in love with the bull. She subsequently gave birth to the half-man, half-bull, Minotaur. Poseidon passed on his rage to the bull, causing it lay waste the land.

After consulting the oracle at Delphi, Minos had Daedalus construct the Labyrinth to hold the Minotaur.

Heracles was sent to capture the bull by Eurystheus as his seventh task. He sailed to Crete, whereupon Minos gave Heracles permission to take the bull away as it had been wreaking havoc on Crete by uprooting crops and leveling orchard walls. Heracles captured the bull, and then shipped it to Eurystheus in Tiryns. [The bull escapes, is captured by Theseus, and eventually killed by him.]

This brings us to one of the many depictions of the seventh labor of Hercules, taming the Cretan bull, in this highly charged bronze-coated zinc sculpture by August Kriesmann (1853) outside Schwerin Castle in northern Germany:

(#5)

On the castle, from Wikipedia:

The Schwerin Palace, also known as Schwerin Castle (German: Schweriner Schloss), is a palatial schloss located in the city of Schwerin, the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state, Germany. It is situated on an island in the city’s main lake, the Lake Schwerin.

For centuries the palace was the home of the dukes and grand dukes of Mecklenburg and later Mecklenburg-Schwerin. Today it serves as the residence of the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern state parliament

The current castle and its grounds (built between 1845 and 1857):

(#6)

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