"The infamy of Crete was stretched along"

The Minotaur guarding Circle 7
Public DomainThe Minotaur guarding Circle 7 - Credit: William Blake

(Canto 12, line 12)

"The infamy of Crete" is the Minotaur. The legend tells that Pasiphaƫ, wife of king Minos of Crete, fell in love with a magic bull sent by the sea-god Poseidon. In order to mate with the bull, she hid inside a wooden cow - the result of their union was the Minotaur. Minos had the famous labyrinth constructed for him to live in, and every nine years he let the defeated Greeks send seven boys and seven girls to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.