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Theseus kills the Minotaur

Theseus kills the Minotaur

Every nine years the Athenians sent seven youths and maidens to be sacrificed to the Minotaur, half-man, half-bull, that lived in King Minos' Labyrinth on Crete.  Theseus, son of King Aegeus bravely offered to join the next victims and try to kill the Minotaur. 

His father begged him not to go with the others, but Theseus insisted, and prepared to sail for Crete.  He hung a black sail on his ship but promised to return with a white sail raised, if he was successful. 

When Theseus finally landed, he found King Minos waiting with his daughter Ariadne.  Ariadne  fell in love with Theseus, and  decided to save him from the Minotaur and marry him.  That night, Ariadne   gave Theseus a sword, and a ball of magic thread to guide him out of the maze.   Next day, the Athenians were thrown into the Labyrinth. 

Once inside, Theseus tied one end of the thread to the door and set off in search of the Minotaur.  The Labyrinth was a confusing maze of cold, dark passages.  Suddenly Theseus came face to face with the monster.  The struggle was long and fierce, for the Minotaur was enormously strong.  But Theseus eventually drove his sword through its heart and it sank to the ground, dead. 

Following the thread, Theseus traced back to the entrance of the Labyrinth.  Ariadne quickly unlocked the door. Then everyone ran for the ship and set sail for Athens. 

King Aegeus, watched anxiously for Theseus' ship to return.  When it came it still had a black sail. Theseus had forgotten his promise to change it. Sighting the black sail and thinking the worst,the King threw himself onto the rocks below.  Ooops!

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Many versions of the Greek legends are quite complicated. Try the Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Greek Mythology for 'simple' versions.