Now I bethought me that this finding of the priestess named "Mother of the Flower," who must be distinguished by certain personal peculiarities, resembled not a little that of the finding of the Apis bull-god, which also must have certain prescribed and holy markings, by the old Egyptians, as narrated by Herodotus.
Further, if civilised ideas perished, and if a race retained a bull-god, born of their degradation and confusion of mind, they might eat him in a ritual sacrifice.
Professor Murray has suggested that this huge underground vault may be the actual Labyrinth of the legend, the underground Temple of the Bull-God, and the scene of the dark tragedies which belong to the story of the Minotaur; but for the confirmation or negation of this suggestion we must wait until the great vault itself has been thoroughly explored.
As applied to Egypt, this explanation is supported by the analogy of the bull-god Apis, who was not suffered to outlive a certain term of years. The intention of thus putting a limit to the life of the human god was, as I have argued, to secure him from the weakness and frailty of age.
"'This way, sez my fat friend, duckin' behind a big bull-god an' divin' into a passage, Thin I remimbered that I must ha' made the miraculous reputation av that temple for the next fifty years. 'Not so fast, I sez, an' I held out both my hands wid a wink. That ould thief smiled like a father.
May we not, therefore, have in these statements a distorted recollection of the fact that the Royal Incarnation of the Bull-God originally held his office only for a term of nine years, and that at the end of that period he went into the Dictæan Cave, the sanctuary of his divinity, and was there slain in sacrifice, while from the cave his successor came forth, and was hailed as the rejuvenated incarnation of divinity, to reign in his turn, and then to perish as his predecessor had done?
It will be remembered that the legend of Minos states variously that he 'ruled for nine years, the gossip of Great Zeus, and that every nine years he went into the cave of Zeus or of the bull-god, to converse with Zeus, to receive new commandments, and to give account of his stewardship.
Thus we have the strange spectacle of a god sacrificed to himself on the ground that he is his own enemy. And as the deity is supposed to partake of the victim offered to him, it follows that, when the victim is the god's old self, the god eats of his own flesh. Hence the goat-god Dionysus is represented as eating raw goat's blood; and the bull-god Dionysus is called "eater of bulls."
It may be, then, that this deity was the one of whom the King was supposed to be the representative and incarnation, and in that case the bull-grappling, which was so constant a feature of the palace sports, had a deeper significance, and was in reality part of the ceremonial associated with the worship of the Cretan bull-god.
According to the story, Minos is not only the son but also the 'gossip' of Zeus; he is, like Abraham, 'the friend of God. He receives from the hand of God, like another Moses, the code of laws which becomes the basis of all subsequent legislation; he holds frequent and familiar intercourse with God, and, once in every nine years, he goes up to the Dictæan cave of the Bull-God 'to converse with Zeus, to receive new commandments, and to give account of his stewardship during the intervening period.