The story of Theseus is one which isn’t so often shared. It is the tale of the young prince of Athens who decided to go against the great and mighty beast that was called the Minotaur. A beast so horrible and terrifying that no one dared go against it. The Minotaur belonged to the King of Cretes, King Minos, an equally cruel and cold man who was feared by all that knew him, or knew of him.
Every year, he would call on all the rulers of all the kingdoms that lay around him, and would demand that they send seven of their finest men and maidens to him as tribute. Only they weren’t so much a tribute to him, as a fine snack for his foul beast that revelled in feeding on human flesh. One would wonder why any ruler would send their own subjects to what was certain death, but they were caught between a rock and a very hard place; for the King had sworn that whoever failed to send their ‘gifts’ in due time, would face his wrath. He would attack the entire kingdom, ransack it, and raze it to the ground. So to them, it was better the lives of the fourteen, than their own lives and those of everyone else they ruled.
Our young prince of Athens, Theseus, on learning the true fate of all those that were sent off to Cretes, decided that he would neither stand by, nor let it continue. So he told his father, King Aegus, ‘Father, send me to Cretes this year; that I may vanquish this beast.’ His father was filled with great sadness for he had known of greater men who had gone before his son, with the same mission, but had been direly unsuccessful. He tried to convince his son otherwise, but he would not listen, and when it was time for the offering to be sent off to Minos, he was part of the party.
Upon their arrival, they were treated to a rare feat; King Minos himself was at the pier to receive them; he taunted and goaded them. He was quite the sadistic brute. and asked who was willing to go first. Theseus stepped forth and said that he would go first. Minos laughed hysterically at him, knowing what lay in store for the young fool. Now his daughter had a more temperate and gentle disposition, and her frail heart immediately fell for the young and handsome man that had dared to defy her father.
As Theseus approached the entrance into the labyrinth where the beast lay, Ariadne called out to him and handed him a ball of string, saying,’ You could easily get lost in the maze. Use this to guide you back.’ Grateful for her help, he took the string and embarked on his quest, letting the string trail behind him; his own trail of bread crumbs. He could hear the beast’s heavy breathing, foul and daunting; it let out a thunderous roar, so powerful and frightening that Theseus felt his blood freeze up in his veins, his heart rattling away in his chest in fleeting beats.
He came across the beast, and he was dropped to the floor instantly, and the Minotaur climbed on his chest, ready to devour him. In this moment, Theseus found himself with strength he was unaware he had. He reached out and grabbed its head, swinging as hard as he could, from side to side. In his hands, he could feel the beast’s strength waning, and he wrenched and tugged on its head. With a groan of defeat, one so meek one could almost pity it, the Minotaur collapsed and died; defeated by the young prince. Hardly believing what he had just done, Theseus scrambled to his feet, felt for the string, and guided himself out of the labyrinth. Ariadne was waiting for him on the other side, and when she saw him, she begged him to take her away as her father would have her scalp for having helped him. And so they fled, and that marked the end of the scourge of the Minotaur that had killed so many. To read more posts by Anne, click HERE
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