95. Theseus kills the Minotaur

Once upon a time, King Minos of Crete, received a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens, unarmed, every nine years, from Athens. He sent the fourteen persons, as food for his monster step-son, the Minotaur, kept inside the Labyrinth built by Daedalus. In sorrow, the Athenians hoisted a black sail on the ship carrying the tribute.

But when the time of the third tribute came, Theseus, the son of Aethra and King Aegeus of Athens, volunteered to be sent, hoping to kill the Minotaur, and thereby, end the giving of tribute. Theseus told Aegeus that if he was successful in killing the Minotaur, then he will sail back with a white sail, else the ship would have a black sail.

As a tribute, Theseus along with others, arrived at Crete. Ariadne, the daughter of Pasiphae and Minos, fell in love with Theseus at first sight. Desperate to save Theseus, she consulted Daedalus as to how it could be done. Daedalus replied that Theseus could take a ball of thread, tie one end of the thread to the entrance, unwind the ball as he proceeded through the twisted maze, until he faced and killed the Minotaur. Thereafter, he could follow the thread on his way back and reach the entrance once again. Ariadne secretly met Theseus, gave him a ball of thread, a sword, and instructed him as Daedalus had told. Theseus promised to marry Ariadne and take her away with him.

Theseus entered the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur, came out with the help of the thread, quickly took Ariadne with him, and sailed away from Crete. But when he reached the isle of Naxos, Theseus deserted Ariadne, while she was sleeping and sailed away without her. However, his faithless, guilty heart forgot to hoist the white sail on his ship. His father Aegeus, seeing the ship return with a black sail, mistakenly understood that Theseus was killed, and in grief, jumped and drowned in the sea, which henceforth was known as the Aegean Sea. Meanwhile, on the isle of Naxos, Ariadne married Dionysus.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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