This story revolves around a toll imposed as a punishment by Minos on Athens, by which annually 14 young men and women became prey to the Minotaur: it recollects and reflects both the Minoan ‘sport’ of bull-leaping and the influence Knossos wielded in southern Greece. It is perhaps the most famous of all the myths associated with ancient Crete.
The story begins when a son of Minos, Androgeos, went to Athens to compete in a competition there. A fine athlete, he captured first place in all the events – arousing the jealousy of King Aegeus of Athens. He ordered his men to ambush Androgeos on the road to Megara – where he was slain.
Once Minos heard of his son’s death, he attacked Athens and imposed harsh terms of surrender: every year 7 young men and 7 young women were chosen by the Athenians and sent to Crete. There they were thrown into the Labyrinth – a huge structure with spiraling and interconnecting paths built by Daedalus under the Palace itself.
It was so vast and its ways so intricate, that once shut inside no-one could escape. And the worst of all? At the centre lurked the Minotaur – hungry for flesh.