The Minotaur

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.

Labyrinth and the Minotaur myth. History of 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.

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