3. Theseus and the Minotaur

Hermes tells how Crete was once all-powerful because of the instruments of war created by Deadalus for King Minos. But King Minos and his people had a problem - the Minotaur - a creature part-man, part-bull, which rampaged throughout the palace killing those it caught.

Deadalus creates a labyrinth - a maze - under the palace and the Minotaur is lured inside, where it can never find its way out again. The only problem is how to feed the creature. Minos determines to demand tribute from the peoples he has conquered in the form of humans - young men and women to be fed to the Minotaur.

The scene switches to Athens. Fourteen young Athenians are being selected for the journey to Crete...and Theseus - son of King Aegeus - is determined to be one of them. Theseus persuades his father to allow him to go to Crete, with the aim of killing the Minotaur. And if he kills the creature he will signal his success by flying a white sail on the return journey.

Theseus and the others arrive in Crete. That evening King Minos's daughter - Ariadne - comes to their cell to offer assistance. She gives Theseus a sword and a ball of thread. The thread will enable Theseus to find his way back through the labyrinth to the entrance again. Now all he must do is find the Minotaur and kill it...

Theseus and the Minotaur - transcript to print/download (pdf)

Play next

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