Picasso closely identified with the mythological Minotaur, who was half-man, half-beast. The Minotaur was an outcast, but he was also a being of untamed passion. Picasso first adopted the minotaur as a theme in the late 1920s. Soon after he made the pencil drawing, his friend Paul Eluard wrote a poem about it, noting, 'You have to see yourself die in order to know that you are still alive' - a reference to the mirror held by the woman. The beast is dying after being speared by an arrow.