The minotaur was a monster half human (from the neck down), half bull (from the neck up). The minotaur was the son of Pasifae, wife of Minos, and a sacred white bull sent by Poseidon to Crete. When king Minos refused to sacrifice the bull to Poseidon, the god cast a spell on his wife, who consequently became enamored with the bull. Pasifae then had Daedalus construct an empty brass sculpture of a cow, so that she could hide inside and mate with the bull.
Minos' shame had the minotaur thrown into the center of the labyrinth and out of sight. Eventually, as part of a treaty with Athens, the Athenians became forced to send seven young men and seven young women to Crete to be devoured by the minotaur, who was an angry, ferocious beast.
The minotaur was eventually slain by Theseus, with help from Ariadne.
The minotaur was reprised in popular culture multiple times, including in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy (1320; Inferno, Canto XII; v. 12-13, 16-21), where he is one of the monsters residing in Hell.