In Erika's Dreams

Theseus Fighting the Minotaur by Jean-Etienne Ramey, 1826.

Today we’re traveling to the island of Crete, home of the great labryinth that contained the half bull, half human Minotaur. Here are a few tales from this magical place…

The Minotaur & The Great Labryinth:

After he ascended the throne of Crete, King Minos struggled with his brothers for the right to rule. Minos prayed to Poseidon (god of the sea) to send him a snow-white bull, as a sign of approval. Minos was to sacrifice the bull in honor of Poseidon but decided to keep it instead because of its beauty.

To punish Minos, Aphrodite (goddess of love) made Pasiphaë (Minos’ wife) fall madly in love with the bull from the sea, a.k.a. the Cretan Bull. She had Daedalus, the famous architect, make a wooden cow for her. Pasiphaë climbed into the bait in order to copulate with the white bull. The offspring of their coupling was a monster called the Minotaur (a beast with the body of a man and the head of the bull). Pasiphaë nursed him in his infancy, but he grew and became ferocious; being the unnatural offspring of man and beast, he had no natural source of nourishment and thus devoured man for sustenance.

King Minos, after getting advice from the Oracle at Delphi, had Daedalus construct a gigantic labyrinth to hold the Minotaur.


King Aegeus of Athens, after a long war with King Minos of Crete, was forced to make a treaty, paying as a tribute every nine years, seven maidens and seven youths, who were sacrificed to the Minotaur. When the time came to make the third payment of the tribute, King Aegeus’s son, Theseus, volunteered to take the place of one of them, in order to kill the Minotaur and deliver Athens. King Aegeus, after a lot of hesitation, gave his permission and told his son that if he was successful in his mission to change the black sails of the ship with white, in his return to Athens.

In Crete, Theseus met King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne, who fell in love with him. Ariadne helped Theseus to kill the Minotaur, advising him to use a ball of string before entering the Labyrinth, where the Minotaur was living. This was a building with complicated corridors, from which nobody could not find his way out.  Theseus tied the string at the entrance of the labyrinth and with a sword which Ariadne gave him, entered the labyrinth and killed the Minotaur.

Taking the Athenian youths with him, Theseus and Ariadne left during the night and sailed to Athens. During his return trip, he stopped at the island of Naxos, where he left Ariadne, when goddess Athena ordered him. From Naxos Theseus sailed to Athens, but he forgot to change the black sails with the white ones. When his father saw the ship entering the Cape of Sounion with the black sails, he fell from the cliffs into the sea and from that time the sea took his name, Aegaeon.

Check back tomorrow for another story from Crete!


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