How Theseus Slays the Minotaur (Greek Mythology)

How Theseus Slays the Minotaur (Greek Mythology)” gives us the meaning and attitudes of a true ruler; how does Theseus behave when he sacrifices his position as prince and the future king of the whole country just to protect his own people because that is the meaning of responsibility, not to mention the insisting, he tried and tried all the time till he managed to lift that vast rock and fulfill his role. 
It gives us some great virtues to teach to our children. 

How Theseus Slays the Minotaur (Greek Mythology)

In the old city of Tyrosine at the foot of a lofty mountain, there lived a very long time

ago a little boy named Theseus, his grandfather, King Pythius, was the sovereign

of that country and was reckoned a very wise man so that Theseus being brought up

in the royal palace and, being naturally a bright lad, could hardly fail to profit by

the old king’s instructions, his mother’s name was Ethra, and as for his father, the boy

had never seen him, but from his earliest remembrance, Ethra used to go with little

Theseus into the wood and sat down upon a moss-grown rock which was deeply

sunken into the earth, where she often talked with her son about his father

and said he was called Aegis and that he was a great king and ruled over Attica

and dwelt in Athens, which was as famous as a city as any in the world.

Theseus was very fond of hearing about King Aegis and often asked his good mother

Eathra asked why he did not come and live with them at Tyrosine.

_ “Oh, my dear son,” answered Eathra with a sigh, “a monarch has his people to take

care of, the men and women over whom he rules are in the place of children to him,

and he can seldom spare time to love his own children as other parents, do your father

will never be able to leave his kingdom for the sake of seeing his little boy?”

_ “Well, but dear mother,” asked the boy, “why cannot I go to this famous city of Athens

and tell King Aegis that I am his son.”

_ “That may happen by and by,” said Aethra “Be patient, and we shall see; you are not yet

big and strong enough to set out on such an errand,”

_ “And how soon shall I be strong enough?!” Theseus persisted in inquiring,

_ “You are but a tiny boy as yet,” replied his mother “See if you can lift this rock on which

we are sitting?!

The little fellow had a great opinion of his own strength, so grasping the rough

protuberances of the rock, he tugged and toiled a mane and got himself quite out

of breath, without being able to stir the heavy stone, it seemed to be rooted into

the ground, no wonder he could not move it, for it would have taken all the force

of a very strong man to lift it out of its earthy bed, his mother stood looking on with

a sad kind of smile on her lips and in her eyes to see the zealous yet puny efforts

of her little boy, she could not help being sorrowful at finding him already so impatient

to begin his adventures

_ “In the world, you see how it is, my dear Theseus,” said she, “you must possess far

more strength than now before. I can trust you to go to Athens and tell King Aegis

that you were his son, but when you can lift this rock and show me what is hidden

beneath it, I promise you my permission to depart.”

Often and often after this, Theseus asked his mother whether it was yet time for him

to go to Athens, and still, his mother pointed to the rock and told him that, for years

to come, he could not be strong enough to move it and again and again

the rosy-cheeked and curly-headed boy would tug and strain at the huge massive stone

striving child as he was to do what a giant could hardly have done without taking both

of his great hands to the task.

Meanwhile, the rock seemed to be sinking farther and farther into the ground,

the moss grew over it thicker and thicker until, at last, it looked almost like a soft green

seat with only a few gray knobs of granite peeping out, the overhanging trees

also shed their brown leaves upon it, as often as the autumn came and added space

grew ferns and wildflowers, some of which crept quite over its surface to all

appearance, the rock was as firmly fastened as any other portion of the earth’s

substance, but difficult as the matter looked, Theseus was now growing up to be such

a vigorous youth that, in his own opinion, the time would quickly come when he might

hope to get the upper hand on this ponderous lump of stone,

_ “Mother, I do believe it has started,” cried he; after one of his attempts, the earth

around it is certainly a little cracked,

_ “No, no child,” his mother hastily answered, “it is not possible you can have moved it,

such a boy as you still are”, nor would she be convinced, although Theseus showed her

the place where he fancied that the stem of a flower had been partly uprooted by

the movement of the rock, but Aethra sighed and looked disquieted, for no doubt

she began to be conscious that her son was no longer a child and that in a little while

hence she must send him forth among the perils and troubles of the world.

It was not more than a year afterward when they were again sitting on the moss-

covered stone, Aether had once more told him the oft-repeated story of his father,

and how gladly he would receive Theseus at his stately palace and how he would

present him to his courtiers and the people and tell them that here was the heir of his

dominions, the eyes of Theseus glowed with enthusiasm, and he would hardly sit still

to hear his mother speak, “dear mother Athra,” he exclaimed,

_ “I never felt half so strong as now; I am no longer a child nor a boy nor a mere youth

I feel myself a man; it is now time to make one earnest trial to remove the stone,”

_ “Oh, my dear Theseus,” replied his mother, “not yet, not yet,”

_ “Yes, mother,” said he resolutely,the time has come,”

then Theseus bent himself in good earnest to the task and strained every sinew with

manly strength and resolution, he put his whole brave heart into the effort; he wrestled

with the big and sluggish stone as if it had been a living enemy, he heaved; he lifted

he resolved now to succeed or else perish there and let the rock be his monument

forever Aethra stood gazing at him and clasped her hands partly with the mother’s

pride and partly with the mother’s sorrow, the great rock stirred! yes, it was raised

slowly from the bedded mason earth, uprooting the shrubs and flowers along with it,

and was turned upon its side. Theseus had conquered.

while takingbreath, he looked joyfully at his mother, and she smiled at him through

her tears “Yes, Theseus,” she said, “the time has come, and you must stay no longer

at my side, see what King Aegis, your royal father left for you beneath the stone when

he lifted it in its mighty arms and laid it on the spot once you have now removed it,”

Theseus looked and saw that the rock had been placed over another slab of stone

containing a cavity within it so that it somewhat resembled a roughly made chest

or coffer of which the upper mass had served as the lid; within the cavity lay a sword

with a golden hilt and a pair of sandals, “that was your father’s sword,” said Aethra

“and those were his sandals when he went to be king of Athens; he bade me treat you

as a child until you should prove yourself a man by lifting this heavy stone, that task

being accomplished, you are to put on his sandals in order to follow in your father’s

footsteps and to gird on his sword so that you may fight giants and dragons as king

Aegis did in his youth,”

_ “I will set out for Athens this very day,” cried Theseus, but his mother persuaded him

to stay a day or two longer while she got ready some necessary articles for his

journey. When his grandfather, the wise king Pythius, heard that Theseus intended

to present himself at his father’s palace, he earnestly advised him to get on board

of a vessel and go by sea because he might thus arrive within 15 miles of Athens

without either fatigue or danger,the roads are very bad by land,” quote the venerable

king, “and they are terribly infested with robbers and monsters, a mere lad like

Theseus is not fit to be trusted on such a perilous journey all by himself, no, no let him

go by sea,”

but when Theseus heard of robbers and monsters, he pricked up his ears and was

so much the more eager to take the road along which they were to be met with;

on the third day, therefore, he paid a respectful farewell to his grandfather, thanking

him for all his kindness, and after affectionately embracing his mother, he set forth

with a good many of her tears glistening on his cheeks and some, if the truth be told

that he gushed out of his own eyes, but he let the sun and wind dry them and walked

stoutly on playing with the golden hilt of his sword and taking very manly strides in his

father’s sandals.

I cannot stop to tell you hardly of any of the adventures that befell Theseus

on the road to Athens! it is enough to say that he quite cleared that part of the country

of the robbers about whom King Pythius had been so much alarmed; one of these bad

people was named Procrustes, and he was indeed a terrible fellow and had an ugly

way of making fun of the poor travelers who happened to fall into his clutches,

in his cavern, he had a bed on which, with great pretense of hospitality, he invited his

guests to lie down, but if they happened to be shorter than the bed, this wicked villain

stretched them out by main force, or if they were too tall, he lopped off their heads

or feet and laughed at what he had done as an excellent joke; thus, however weary

a man might be he never liked to lie in the bed of Procrustes,

another of these robbers named Sinus must likewise have been a very great

scoundrel, he was in the habit of flinging his victims off a high cliff into the sea,

and in order to give him exactly his desserts, Theseus tossed him off the very same

place, but if you will, believe me, the sea would not pollute itself by receiving

such a bad person into its bosom, neither would the earth having once got rid of him

consent to take him back so that between the cliff and the sea sinus stuck fast

in the air, which was forced to bear the burden of his naughtiness.

After these memorable deeds, Theseus heard of an enormous sow that ran wild

and was the terror of all the farmers roundabout, and as he did not consider himself

above doing any good thing that came his way, he killed this monstrous creature

and gave the carcass to the poor people for bacon; the great sow had been an awful

beast while ramping about the woods and fields but was a pleasant object enough

when cut up into joints and smoking on, I don’t know how many dinner tables.

Thus by the time he reached his journey’s end, Theseus had done many valiant feats

with his father’s golden hilted sword and had gained the renown of being one

of the bravest young men of the day, his fame traveled faster than he did and reached

Athens before him; as he entered the city, he heard the inhabitants talking on

the street corners and saying that Hercules was brave and Jason too, and the caster

and Pollux likewise, but Theseus, the son of their own king, would turn out

as great as a hero as the best of them, Theseus took longer strides on hearing this

and fancied himself sure of magnificent reception at his father’s court since he came

thither with fame to blow her trumpet before him and cry to king Aegis

“Behold your son,” he little suspected innocent youth that he was that here in this

very Athens, where his father reigned, a more significant danger awaited him than any

which he had encountered on the road, yet this was the truth; you must understand

that the father of Theseus though not very old in years, was almost worn out with

the cares of government and had thus grown aged before his time, his nephews not

expecting him to live a very significant while intending to get all the power

of the kingdom into their own hands, but when they heard that Theseus had arrived

in Athens and learned what a gallant young man he was; they saw that he would not

be at all the kind of person to let them steal away his father’s crown and scepter

which ought to be his own by the rite of inheritance; thus, these bad-hearted 

nephews of King Aegis who were the own cousins of Theseus at once, became his 

enemies; a still more dangerous enemy was Medea, the wicked enchantress, for she 

was now the king’s wife and wanted to give the kingdom to her son Medus instead of 

letting it be given to the son of Aethra, whom she hated.

It so happened that the king’s nephews met Theseus and found out who he was just

as he reached the entrance of the royal palace with all their evil designs against him

they pretended to be their cousin’s best friends and expressed great joy at making

his acquaintance, they proposed to him that he should come into the king’s presence

as a stranger in order to try whether Aegis would discover the young man’s features

any likeness either to himself or his mother Ethra and thus recognize him for a son,

Theseus consented, for he fancied that his father would know him in a moment

by the love that was in his heart, but while he waited at the door, the nephews ran

and told King Aegis that a young man had arrived in Athens who, to their certain

knowledge intended to put him to death and get possession of his royal crown

_ “And he is now waiting for admission to your majesty’s presence,” added they,

_ “Aha,” said the old king on hearing this,why!! he must be a very wicked young

fellow indeed, pray what would you advise me to do with him?”,

in reply to this question, the wicked Medea put in her word, as I have already told you

she was a famous enchantress according to some stories – she was in the habit

of boiling old people in a large cauldron under the pretense of making them young

again, but King Aegis, I suppose, did not fancy such an uncomfortable way of growing

young or perhaps was contented to be old and therefore would never let himself

be popped into the cauldron if there were time to spare for more important matters,

I should be glad to tell you of Medea’s fiery chariot drawn by winged dragons in which

the enchantress often used to take an airing among the clouds; this chariot, in fact, 

was the vehicle that first brought her to Athens, where she had done nothing but 

mischief ever since her arrival, but these and many other wonders must be left untold 

and it is enough to say that Medea, amongst a thousand other bad things, knew how

to prepare a poison that was instantly fatal to whomsoever might so much as touch it

with his lips, so when the king asked what he should do with Theseus,

his naughty woman had an answer ready at her tongue’s end “Leave that to me,

please, your majesty,” she replied, “only admit this evil-minded young man to your

presence, treat him civilly, and invite him to drink a goblet of wine; your majesty is well

aware that I sometimes amuse myself by distilling very powerful medicines; here is

one of them in this small file as to what it is made of that is one of my secrets of state

do but let me put a single drop into the goblet and let the young man taste it,

and I shall answer for it he shall quite lay aside the bad designs with which he comes

hither” As she said this, Medea smiled, but for all her smiling face, she meant nothing

less than to poison the poor innocent Theseus before his father’s eyes, and King 

Aegis like most other kings thought any punishment was mild enough for a person 

who was accused of plotting against his life, he, therefore, made little or no objection 

to Medea’s scheme, and as soon as the poisonous wine was ready, gave orders that 

the young stranger should be admitted into his presence; the goblet was set on a 

table beside the king’s throne and a fly meant to just sip a little from the brim 

immediately tumbled into it dead; observing this, Medea looked round 

at the nephews and smiled again, when Theseus was ushered into the royal 

apartment, the only object that he seemed to behold was the white-bearded old king 

there he sat on his magnificent throne a dazzling crown on his head and a scepter in 

his hand, his aspect was stately and majestic, although his years and infirmities

weighed heavily upon him as if each year was a lump of lead, and each infirmity 

ponderous stone, and all were bundled up together and laid upon his weary 

shoulders, the tears of both joy and sorrow sprang into the young man’s eyes, for he 

thought how sad it was to see his dear father so infirm and how sweet it would be to 

support him with his own youthful strength and to cheer him up with the alacrity 

of his loving spirit when a son takes his father into his warm heart, it renews the old 

man’s youth in a better way then by the heat of Medea’s magic cauldron, 

and this was what Theseus resolved to do, he could scarcely wait to see whether

 King Aegis would recognize him, so eager was he to throw himself into his arms, 

advancing to the foot of the throne he attempted to make a little speech which 

he had been thinking about as he came up the stairs, but he was almost choked 

by a great many tender feelings that gushed out of his heart and swelled into 

his throat, all struggling to find utterance together and therefore, unless he could 

have laid his full overbrimming heart into the king’s hand poor Theseus knew

 not what to do or say, the cunning Medea observed what was passing in the young 

man’s mind; she was more wicked at that moment than ever she had been before, 

and it makes me tremble to tell you of it; she did her worst to turn all this unspeakable 

love with which Theseus was agitated to his own ruin and destruction

_ “does your majesty see his confusion!?” she whispered in the king’s ear “he is so

conscious of guilt that he trembles and cannot speak, the wretch lives too long, quick

offer him the wine now, king”,

Aegis had been gazing earnestly at the young stranger as he drew near the throne

there was something he knew not what either in his white brow or in the fine

expression of his mouth or in his beautiful and tender eyes that made him indistinctly

feel as if he had seen this youth before as if indeed he had trotted him on his knee

when a baby and had beheld him growing to be a stalwart man while he himself grew

old, but Medea guessed how the king felt and would not suffer him to yield to these

natural sensibilities, although they were the voice of his deepest heart telling him

as plainly as it could speak that here was our dear son and Aethra’s son coming

to claim him for a father, the enchantress again whispered in the king’s ear

and compelled him by her witchcraft to see everything under a false aspect, he made

up his mind, therefore, to let Theseus drink off the poisoned wine,

_ “young man,” he said, “you are welcome I am proud to show hospitality to so heroic

a youth, do me the favor to drink the contents of this goblet; it is brimming over as you

see with delicious wine such as I bestow only on those who are worthy of it, none

is more worthy to quaff than yourself”, so saying king aegis took the golden goblet

from the table and was about to offer it to Theseus but partly through his infirmities

and partly because it seemed so sad a thing to take away this young man’s life,

however wicked he might be and partly no doubt because his heart was wiser

then his head quaked within him at the thought of what he was going to do for all

these reasons, the king’s hand trembled so much that a great deal of the wine

slopped over in order to strengthen his purpose and fear lest the whole

of the precious poison should be wasted, one of his nephews now whispered to him,

_ “Has your majesty any doubt of this stranger’s guilt there is the very sword with

which he meant to slay you, how sharp and bright and terrible it is, quick let him taste

the wine, or perhaps he may do the deed even yet”.

At these words, Aegis drove every thought and feeling out of his breast except

the one idea of how justly the young man deserved to be put to death, he sat erect

on his throne and held out the goblet of wine with a steady hand and bent on

Theseus a frown of kingly severity, for, after all, he had too noble a spirit to murder

even a treacherous enemy with a deceitful smile upon his face,

_ “drink,” said he in the stern tone with which he wanted to condemn a criminal to be

beheaded “you have well deserved of me such wine as this,”

Theseus held out his hand to take the wine, but before he touched it, king Aegis

trembled again; his eyes had fallen on the gold-hilted sword that hung at the young

man’s side, he drew back the goblet

_ “that sword!?” he exclaimed “how came you buy it?”,

_ “it was my father’s sword,” replied Theseus with a tremulous voice “these were his

sandals, my dear mother, her name is Ethra, told me his story while I was yet a little

child, but it is only a month since I grew strong enough to lift the heavy stone and take

the sword and sandals from beneath it and come to Athens to seek my father”,

_ “my son, my son,” cried king Aegis flinging away the fatal goblet and tottering down

from the throne to fall into the arms of Theseusyes, these are Aethra’s eyes; it is my

son”; I have quite forgotten what became of the king’s nephews, but when wicked

Medea saw this new turn of affairs; she hurried out of the room and, going to her

private chamber lost no time in setting her enchantments at work; in a few moments,

she heard a great noise of hissing snakes outside the chamber window, and behold,

there was her fiery chariot and four huge winged serpents wiggling and twisting

in the air flourishing their tails higher than the top of the palace and all ready to set off

on an aerial journey, Medea stayed only long enough to take her son with her

and to steal the crown jewels together with the king’s best robes and whatever other

valuable things she could lay her hands on, and getting into the chariot,

she whipped up the snakes and ascended high over the city.

The king hearing the hiss of the serpents, scrambled as fast as he could to the 

window and bawled out to the abominable enchantress

 “never to come back,” the whole people of Athens, too, who had run out of doors to 

see this wonderful spectacle set up a shot of joy at the prospect of getting rid of her, 

Medea almost bursting with rage uttered precisely such a hiss as one of her own 

snakes only ten times more venomous and spiteful and glaring fiercely out of the 

blaze of the chariot, she shook her hands over the multitude below as if she were 

scattering a million curses among them in so doing; however, she unintentionally let 

fall about 500 diamonds of the first water together with a thousand great pearls and 

two thousand emeralds, rubies, sapphires,

opals and topazes to which she’d helped herself out of the king’s strongbox،

all these came pelting down like a shower of many-colored hailstones upon the heads

of grown people and children who forthwith gathered them up and carried them back

to the palace, but king Aegis told them that they were welcomed to the hull

and to twice as many more if he had them for the sake of his delight at finding his son

and losing the wicked Medea, and indeed if you had seen how hateful her last

look as the flaming chariot flew upward; you would not have wondered that both king

and people should think her departure of good riddance.

Now, prince Theseus was taken into great favor by his royal father; the old king

was never weary of having him sit beside him on his throne, which was quite wide

enough for two and of hearing him tell about his dear mother and his childhood

and his many boyish efforts to lift the ponderous stone, Theseus, however, was much

too brave and active a young man to be willing to spend all his time relating things

which had already happened; his ambition was to perform other and more heroic

deeds which should be better worth telling in prose and verse.

Nor had he been long in athens before he caught and chained a terrible mad bull

and made a public show of him greatly to the wonder and admiration of the good

King Aegis and his subjects, but pretty soon, he undertook an affair that made all his

foregone adventures seem like mere boy’s play, the occasion of it was as follows;

one morning when prince Theseus awoke, he fancied that he must have had a very

sorrowful dream and that it was still running in his mind even now that his eyes were

open for it appeared as if the air was full of a melancholy whale and when he listened

more attentively, he could hear sobs and groans and screams of woe mingled with

deep quiet sighs which came from the king’s palace and from the streets and from

the temples and from every habitation in the city and all these mournful noises issuing

out of thousands of separate hearts united themselves into the one great sound

of affliction which had startled Theseus from slumber, he put on his clothes as quickly

as he could not forget his sandals and gold-hilted sword and hastening to the king

inquired what it all meant,

“Alas, my son,” quoth King Aegis, “heaving alongside here is a very lamentable matter.

On the and, this is the woeful anniversary of the whole year; it is the day when

we annually draw lots to see which of the youths and maidens of Athens shall go

to be devoured by the horrible minotaur, the minotaur exclaimed prince Theseus

and like a brave young prince as he was, he put his hand to the hilt of his sword

_ “what kind of a monster may that be? is it not possible at the risk of one’s life to slay


but king Aegis shook his venerable head to convince Theseus that it was quite

a hopeless case, he gave him an explanation of the whole affair; it seems that on

On the island of Crete, there specific lived a certain dreadful monster called

 a minotaur which was shaped partly like a man and partly like a bull and was 

altogether such a hideous sort of a creature that it is really disagreeable to think 

of him if he were suffered to exist at all, it would have been on some desert island 

or in the duskiness of some deep cavern where nobody would ever be tormented 

by his abominable aspect, but king Minos who reigned over Crete laid out a vast deal 

of money in building a habitation for the minotaur and took great care of his health 

and comfort, merely for mischief’s sake, a few years before this time, there there had 

been a war between the city of athenAthenssAthen Athens and the island of Crete 

in which the Athenians were beaten and compelled to beg for peace, no peace could 

they obtain, however, except on condition that they should send seven young men 

and seven maidens every year to be devoured by the pet monster of the cruel king 

Minos for three years past this grievous calamity had been born, and the sobs and 

groans and shrieks with which the city was now filled were caused by the people’s 

woe because the fatal day had come again when the 14 victims were to be chosen by 

lot and the old people feared lest their sons or daughters might be taken, and the 

youths and damsels dreaded lest they themselves might be destined to glut the 

ravenous maw of that detestable man brute, but when Theseus heard the story, he 

straightened himself up so that he seemed taller than ever before, and as for his face, 

it was indignant despiteful bold, tender and compassionate all in one look

_ “let the people of Athens this year draw lots for only six young men instead 

of seven,” said he, “I will myself be the seventh and let the minotaur devour me 

if he can,”

_ “oh, my dear son,” cried king Aegis, “why should you expose yourself to this horrible

fate? You are a royal prince and have a right to hold yourself above the destinies

of common men”,

_ “It is because I am a prince, your son, and the rightful heir of your kingdom

that I freely take upon me the calamity of your subjects,” answered Theseus

“And you, my father being king over this people and answerable to heaven

for their welfare are bound to sacrifice what is dearest to you rather than that the son

or daughter of the poorest citizen should come to any harm”,

the old king shed tears and besought Theseus not to leave him desolate in his old age

more especially as he had but just begun to know the happiness of possessing

a good and valiant son, Theseus, however, felt that he was in the right and therefore

would not give up his resolution, but he assured his father that he did not intend

to be eaten up unresistingly like a sheep and that if the minotaur devoured him,

it should not be without a battle for his dinner, and finally, since he could not help it,

King Aegis consented to let him go.

So a vessel was got ready and rigged with black sails and Theseus with six other

young men and seven tender and beautiful damsels came down to the harbor

to embark, a sorrowful multitude accompanied them to the shore; there was the old

king too, leaning on his son’s arm and looking as if his single heart held all the grief

of Athens, just as prince Theseus was going on board, his father thought himself

of one last word to say

_ “my beloved son,” said he is, grasping the prince’s hand, “you observe that 

the sales of this vessel are black as indeed they ought to be since it goes upon a 

voyage of sorrow and despair, now being weighed down with infirmities, I know not 

whether I can survive till the vessel shall return, but as long as I do live, I shall creep 

daily to the top of yonder cliff to watch if there be a sail upon the sea and dearest 

Theseus if by some happy chance you should escape the jaws of the minotaur, then 

tear down those dismal sails and hoist others that shall be as bright as the sunshine, 

beholding them on the horizon myself and all the people will know that you are 

coming back victorious and will welcome you with such a festival uproar as Athens 

never heard before”.

Theseus promised that he would do so than going on board; the mariners trimmed

the vessel’s black sails to the wind, which blew faintly off the shore, being pretty

much made up of the size that everybody kept pouring forth on this melancholy

the occasion, but by and by, when they had got fairly out to sea, there came a stiff 

breeze from the northwest and drove them along as merrily over the white-capped 

waves as if they had been going on the most delightful errand imaginable, and 

although it was a sad business enough. 

I rather question whether 14 young people without any old persons to keep them in 

order could continue to spend the whole time of the voyage and being miserable, 

there have been some few dances upon the undulating deck, I suspect, and some 

hearty bursts of laughter and other such unseasonable merriment among the victims 

before the high blue mountains of Crete began to show themselves among the far-off 

clouds, that sight to be sure made them all very grave again.

Theseus stood among the sailors gazing eagerly towards the land, although as yet

it seemed hardly more substantial than the clouds amidst which the mountains were

looming up once or twice, he fancied that he saw a glare of some bright object along

way off, flinging a gleam across the waves

_ “did you see that flash of light?” he inquired of the master of the vessel,

_ “no prince, but I’ve seen it before,” answered the master “it came from talus,

I suppose,”

as the breeze came fresher just, then the master was busy trimming his sails and had

no more time to answer questions, but while the vessel flew faster and faster towards

Crete Theseus was astonished to behold a human figure gigantic in size which

appeared to be striding with a measured movement along the margin of the island,

it stepped from cliff to cliff and sometimes from one headland to another while

the sea foamed and thundered on the shore beneath and dashed its jets of spray over

the giant’s feet what was still more remarkable whenever the sun shone on this huge

figure it flickered and glimmered; its vast countenance too had a metallic luster

and threw great flashes of splendor through the air the folds of its garments moreover

instead of waving in the wind fell heavily over its limbs as if woven of some kind

of metal the hire the vessel came, the more Theseus wondered what this immense

giant could be and whether it actually had life or not, for though it walked and made

other lifelike motions there yet was a kind of a jerk in its gate which together with its

brazen aspect caused the young man to suspect that it was no true giant but only

a wonderful piece of machinery, the figure looked all the more terrible because

it carried an enormous brass club on its shoulder

_ “What is this wonder?” Theseus asked the master of the vessel, who was now 

at leisure, to answer him

_ “it is talus, the man of brass,” said the master,

_ “and is he alive giant or a brazen image?” asked Theseus,

_ “that truly,” replied the master, “is the point which has always perplexed me, some

say indeed that this talus was hammered out for king Minos by Vulcan himself

the most skillful of all workers in metal, but whoever saw a brazen image that had

sense enough to walk around an island three times a day as this giant walks round

the island of Crete challenging every vessel that comes nigh to the shore,

and on the other hand, what living thing Alessa’s sinews were made of brass would

not be weary of marching 800 miles in the 24 hours as talus does without ever sitting

down to rest, he is a puzzler; take him how you will!”, still, the vessel went bounding 

onward, and now Theseus could hear the brazen clanger

of the giant’s footsteps as he trod heavily upon the sea-beaten rocks, some of which

were seen to crack and crumble into the foamy waves beneath his weight as they

approached the entrance of the port, the giants straddled clear across it with a foot

firmly placed on each headland and uplifting his club to such a height that its butt end

was hidden in a cloud, he stood in that formidable posture with the sun gleaming all

over his metallic surface, there seemed nothing else to be expected but that

the next moment he would fetch his great club down slam-bang and smash the

vessel into a thousand pieces without heeding how many innocent people he might

destroy for there is seldom any mercy in a giant, you know, and quite as little in a piece

of brass clockwork, but just when Theseus and his companions thought the blow

was coming, the brazen lips unclosed themselves, and the figures spoke,

_ “once come you, strangers?” and when the ringing voice ceased, there was just 

such a reverberation as you might have heard within a great church bell for a moment

or two after the stroke of the hammer,

_ “from Athens,” shouted the master in reply,

_ “on what errand?” thundered the man of brass as he whirled his club aloft more

threateningly than ever as if he were about to smite them with a thunder stroke right

amidships because Athens so little while ago had been at war with Crete,

_ “we bring the seven youths and the seven maidens,” answered the master,

“to be devoured by the minotaur”‘

_ “pass,” cried the brazen giant; that one loud word rolled all about the sky while

again there was a booming reverberation within the figure’s breast. The vessel glided

between the headlands of the port and the giant resumed his march, in a few

moments this wondrous sentinel was far away, flashing in the distant sunshine

and revolving with immense strides around the island of Crete as it was his never-

ceasing task to do.

No sooner had they entered the harbor than a party of the guards of king Minos came

down to the waterside and took charge of the 14 young men and damsels,

surrounded by these armed warriors, prince Theseus and his companions were led

to the king’s palace and ushered into his presence; now Minos was stern and pitiless

king – if the figure that guarded Crete was made of brass, then the monarch who ruled

over it might be thought to have a still harder metal in his breast and might have been

called a man of iron- he bent his shaggy brows upon the poor Athenian victims,

any other mortal beholding their fresh and tender beauty and their innocent looks

would have felt himself sitting on thorns until he had made every soul of them happy

by bidding them go free as the summer wind, but this immutable minos cared only

to examine whether they were plump enough to satisfy the minotaur’s appetite,

for my part, I wish he had been the only victim, and the monster would have

found him a pretty tough one.

One after another, king Minos called these pale, frightened youths and sobbing

maidens to his footstool gave them each a poke in the ribs with a scepter to try

whether they were in good flesh or not and dismissed them with a nod to his guards,

but when his eyes rested on Theseus, the king looked at him more attentively

because his face was the calm and brave young man asked him with his stern voice

_ “are you not appalled at the certainty of being devoured by this terrible minotaur,”

_ “I have offered my life for a good cause,” answered Theseus,and therefore, I give it

freely and gladly, but thou king Mino’s art thou, not thyself appalled who year

after year has perpetrated this dreadful wrong by giving seven innocent youths

and as many maidens to be devoured by a monster dost thou not tremble wicked

king to turn the eyes inward on thine own heart sitting there on thy golden throne

and in thy robes of majesty, I tell thee to thy face king Mino’s thou art a more hideous

monster than the minotaur himself”, 

_ “aha, do you think me?” so asked the king, laughing in his cruel way “tomorrow

at breakfast time, you shall have an opportunity of judging which is the greater

monster, the minotaur, or the king, take them away guards and let this free-spoken

youth be the minotaur’s first morsel.”

Near the king’s throne though I had no time to tell you so before, stood his daughter,

Ariadne was a beautiful and tenderhearted maiden and looked at these poor, doomed

captives with very different feelings from those of the iron-breasted king Minos;

she really wept indeed at the idea of how much human happiness would be

needlessly thrown away by giving so many young people in the first bloom and rose

blossom of their lives to be eaten up by a creature who no doubt would have preferred

a fat ox or even a large pig to the plumpest of them, and when she beheld the brave,

spirited figure of prince Theseus burying himself so calmly in his terrible peril

she grew a hundred times more pitiful than before as the guards were taking him

away, she flung herself at the king’s feet and besought him to set all the captives free

and especially this one young man,

_ “peace, foolish girl,” answered king Minos “what hast thou to do with an affair like 

this, it is a matter of state policy and therefore quite beyond thy weak comprehension,

go what are thy flowers and think no more of these Athenian cadets whom

the minotaur shall certainly eat up for breakfast as I will eat a partridge for my supper,

so saying,”

the king looked cruel enough to devour Theseus and all the rest of the captives himself

had there been no minotaur to save him the trouble as he would not hear another word

in their favor, the prisoners were now led away and clapped into a dungeon where

the jailer advised going to sleep as soon as possible because the minotaur was

in the habit of calling for breakfast early, the seven maidens and six of the young men

soon sobbed themselves to slumber, but Theseus was not like them; he felt conscious

that he was wiser and braver and stronger than his companions and that, therefore

he had the responsibility of all their lives upon him and must consider whether

there was no way to save them even in this last extremity, so he kept himself awake

and paced to and fro across the gloomy dungeon in which they were shut up.

Just before midnight, the door was softly unbarred, and general Ariadne showed

herself with a torch in her hand

_ “are you awake, prince Theseus? she whispered

_ “yes,” answered Theseus, “with so little time to live, I do not choose to waste

any of it in sleep,”

_ “then follow me,” said Ariadne and tread softly what had become of the jailer

and the guards, Theseus never knew, but however that might be, Ariadne opened

all the doors led him forth from the darksome prison into the pleasant moonlight.

_ “Theseus,” said the maiden, “you can now get on board your vessel and sail away

for Athens,”

_ “no,” answered the young man, “I will never leave Crete unless I can first slay

the minotaur and save my poor companions and deliver Athens from this cruel tribute”,

_ “I knew this would be your resolution,” said Ariadne “come then with me, brave

Theseus, here’s your own sword which the guards deprived you off; you will need it

and pray heaven you may use it well” then she led Theseus along by the hand until

they came to a dark shadowy grove where the moonlight wasted itself on the tops

of the trees without shedding hardly so much as a glimmering beam upon their

pathway; after going a good way through this obscurity, they reached a high marble

wall which was overgrown with creeping plants that made it shaggy with their verger,

this wall seemed to have no door nor any windows but rose up lofty and massive

and mysterious and was neither to be clambered over nor so far as Theseus could

perceive to be passed through; nevertheless, Ariadne did but pressed one of her soft

little fingers against a particular block of marble, and although it looked as solid as

any other part of the wall it yielded to her touch, disclosing an entrance just wide

enough to admit them, they crept through, and the marble stone swung back into

its place,

_ “we are now,” said Ariadne,e “in the famous labyrinth which Daedalus built before

he made himself a pair of wings and flew away from our island like a bird;

that Daedalus was a very cunning workman but of all his artful contrivances,

this labyrinth is the most wondrous were we to take but a few steps from the doorway,

we might wander about all our lifetime and never find it again, yet in the very center

of this labyrinth is the minotaur and Theseus you must go thither to seek him,”

_ “but how shall I ever find him,” said Theseus, “if the labyrinth so bewilders me

as you say it will?”,

just as he spoke, they heard a rough and very disagreeable roar that greatly

resembled the lowing of a fierce bull but yet had some sort of sound like the human

voice Theseus even fancied a rude articulation in it as if the creature that uttered

it was trying to shape his horse’s breath into words. It was at some distance, however

and he really could not tell whether it sounded most like a bull’s roar or a man’s

harsh voice,

_ “that is the minotaur’s noise,” whispered Ariadne, closely grasping the hand

of Theseus and pressing one of her own hands to her heart which was all in a tremble

“you must follow that sound through the windings of the labyrinth, and by and by

you will find him, stay take the end of the silken string i will hold the other end,

and then, if you win the victory, it will lead you again to this spot, farewell

brave Theseus”.

So the young man took the end of the silken string in his left hand and his gold hilted

sword ready drawn from its scabbard in the other and tried boldly into the inscrutable

labyrinth, how this labyrinth was built is more than I can tell you but so cunningly

contrived an ms maysmay was never seen in the world before nor since there can be

nothing else so intricate unless it were the brain of a man like Daedalus who planned

it or the heart of any ordinary man, which last to be sure is ten times as great a mystery

as the labyrinth of Crete.

Theseus had not taken five steps before he lost sight of Ariadne, and in five more

his head was growing dizzy, but still, he went on,

now creeping through a low arch, now ascending a flight of steps, now in one crooked

passage and now on another with here a door opening before him and there one

hanging behind until it really seemed as if the walls spun round and whirled him

around along with them and all the while through these hollow avenues now nearer

now farther off again resounded the cry of the minotaur, and the sound was so fierce

so cruel, so ugly, so like a bull’s roar and with all so like a human voice and yet like

neither of them that the brave heart of Theseus grew sterner and angrier at every step

for he felt it an insult to the moon and sky and to our affectionate and simple mother

earth that such a monster should have the audacity to exist.

As he passed onward, the clouds gathered over the moon, and the labyrinth grew

so dusky that Theseus could no longer discern the bewilderment through which

he was passing, he would have felt quite lost and utterly hopeless of ever again

walking in a straight path if every little while he had not been conscious of a gentle

twitch at the silken cord; then, he knew that the tender-hearted Ariadne was still 

holding the other end as fearing for him and hoping for him and giving him just as 

much of her sympathy as if she were close by his side, oh indeed, I can assure you 

there was great deal of human sympathy running along that slender thread of silk, 

but still, he followed the dreadful roar of the minotaur, which now grew louder 

and louder and finally so very loud that Theseus fully expected to come close upon 

him at every new zigzag and wriggle of the path and, at last, in an open space at the 

very center of the labyrinth he did discern the hideous creature sure enough, what an 

ugly monster it was, only his horned head belonged to a bull, and yet somehow or 

other, he looked like a bull all over preposterously waddling on his hind legs, or if you 

happen to view him in another way, he seemed wholly a man and all the more 

monstrous for being so, and there he was, 

the wretched thing with no society, no companion, no kind of a mate living only

to domake mischief, and incapable of knowing what affection means, Theseus hated 

him and shuddered at him and yet could not but be sensible of some sort of pity,

and all the more, the uglier and more detestable the creature was furry kept striding

to and fro in a solitary frenzy of rage, continually emitting a horse roar which was oddly

mixed up with half-shaped words, and after listening for a while, Theseus understood

that the minotaur was saying to himself how miserable he was and how hungry

and how much he hated everybody and how he longed to eat up the human race alive,

ah, that bull-headed villain, and oh my good little people, you will perhaps see one

of these days as I do now that every human being who suffers anything evil to get

into his nature or to remain there is a kind of minotaur, an enemy of his fellow

creatures and separated from all good companionship as this poor monster was,

“was Theseus afraid?”

“by no means, my dear auditors,”

“What? a hero like Theseus afraid? Not had the minotaur had 20 bullheads instead

of one bold as he was, however, I rather fancy that it strengthened his valiant heart

just at this crisis to feel a tremulous twitch at the silken cord which he was still

holding in his left hand, it was as if Ariadne were giving him all her might and courage

and much as he already had and as little as she had to give, it made his own seem

twice as much, and to confess the honest truth, he needed the whole.

For now, the minotaur turning suddenly about caught sight of Theseus and instantly

lowered his horribly sharp horns exactly as a mad bull does when he means  to rush

against an enemy at the same time, he belched forth a tremendous roar in which

there was something like the words of human language but all disjointed and shaken

to pieces, by passing through the gullet of the miserably enraged brute, Theseus could

only guess what the creature intended to say and that rather by his gestures

than his words, for the minotaur’s horns were sharper than his wits and of a great

deal more service to him than his tongue, but probably this was the sense of what

he uttered a wretch of a human being, “I’ll stick my horns through you and toss you 50

feet high and eat you up the moment you come down”,

“come on then and try” it was all that Theseus deigned to reply, for he was far too

magnanimous to assault his enemy with insolent language,

without more words on either side, there ensued the most awful fight between

Theseus and the minotaur that ever happened beneath the sun or moon, I really know

not how it might have turned out if the monster, in his first headlong rush against

Theseus had not missed him by a hair’s breadth and broken one of his horns short off

against the stone wall, on this mishap, he bellowed so intolerably that a part

of the labyrinth tumbled down, and all the inhabitants of Crete mistook the noise

for an uncommonly heavy thunderstorm.

Smarting with the pain, he galloped around the open space in so a ridiculous  way that

Theseus laughed at it long afterward, though not precisely at the moment,

after this, the two antagonists stood valiantly up to one another and fought sword

to the horn for a long while; at last, the minotaur made a run at Theseus, grazed his left

side with his horn and flung him down and thinking that he had stabbed him

to the heart, he cut a great caper in the air and opened his bull mouth from ear to ear

and prepared to snap his head off, but Theseus, by this time, had leaped up and caught

the monster is off guard, fetching a sword stroke at him with all his force; he hits him

fair upon the neck and made his bull head skip six yards from his human body which

fell down flat upon the ground.

So now the battle was ended immediately; the moon shone out as brightly as if all

the troubles of the world and all the wickedness and the ugliness that infest human

life was passed and gone forever and Theseus, as he leaned on his sword, taking

breath felt another twitch of the silken cord for all through the terrible encounter

he had held it fast in his left hand, eager to let Ariadne know of his success;

he followed the guidance of the thread and soon found himself at the entrance

of the labyrinth.

_ “thou has slain the monster,” cried Ariadne clasping her hands,

_ “thanks to thee, dear Ariadne,” answered Theseus, “I returned victoriously,”

then said, Ariadne

” we must quickly summon my friends and get them and thyself on board the vessel

before dawn, if morning finds thee here, my father will avenge the minotaur,”

to make my story short, the poor captives were awakened and hardly knew whether

it was not a joyful dream were told what Theseus had done and that they must set sail

for Athens before daybreak, hastening down to the vessel, they all clambered on board

except  for prince Theseus, who lingered behind them on the strand holding Ariadne’s 

hand clasped in his own

_ “dear maiden,” he said, “thou wilt surely go with us; thou art too gentle and sweet

a child for such an iron-hearted father as king Minos, he cares no more for thee than

a granite rock cares for the little flower that grows in one of its crevices but my father

King Aegis and my dear mother there and all the fathers and mothers in Athens

and all the sons and daughters too will love and honor thee as their benefactors come

with us then, for a king, Minos will be very angry when he knows what thou has done”,

now some low-minded people who pretend to tell the story of Theseus and Ariadne

have the face to say that this royal and honorable maiden did really flee away under

cover of the night with the young stranger whose life she had preserved, they say too

that prince Theseus who could have died sooner than wrong, the meanest creature

in the world ungratefully deserted Ariadne on a solitary island where the vessel

touched on its voyage to Athens but had the noble Theseus heard these falsehoods

he would have served their slanderous authors as he served to the minotaur,

here is what Ariadne answered when the brave prince of Athens besought her

to accompany him

_ “no, Theseus,” the maiden said, pressing his hand and then drawing back a step

or two. “I cannot go with you; my father is old and has nobody but myself to love him,

hard as you think his heart is, it would break to lose me at first king Minos will be

angry, but he will soon forgive his only child, and by and by, he will rejoice, iII know 

that no more youths and maidens must come from Athens to be devoured by the 

minotaur, I’d saved Theseus as much for my father’s sake as for your own; farewell, 

heaven bless you”,

all this was so true and so maiden-like and was spoken with so sweet of dignity

that Theseus would have blushed to urge her any longer, nothing remained for him

therefore but to bid Ariadne an affectionate farewell and go on board the vessel

and set sail; in a few moments, the white foam was boiling up before their prow

as prince Theseus and his companions sailed out of the harbor with a whistling

breeze behind them, Talus the brazen giant on his never-ceasing sentinel’s march

happened to be approaching that part of the coast, and they saw him by

the glimmering of the moonbeams on his polished surface while he was yet

a great way off as the figure moved like clockwork, however, and could neither hasten

his enormous strides nor them, he arrived at the port when they were just beyond

the reach of his club nevertheless straddling from headland to headland

as his custom was, Talus attempted to strike a blow at the vessel and, overreaching

himself tumbled at full length into the sea, which splashed high over his gigantic

shape as when an iceberg turns a summerset, there he lies still, and whoever desires

to enrich himself by means of brass had better go through there with the diving bell

and fish up Talus.

On the homeward voyage, the fourteen youths and damsels were in excellent spirits

as you will easily suppose they spent most of their time in dancing unless when

the sidelong breeze made the deck slope too much. In due season they came within

the right of the coast of Attica, which was their native country but here I am grieved

to tell you happened a sad misfortune, you will remember what Theseus,unfortunately

forgot that his father, king Aegis had enjoined it upon him to hoist sunshiny sails

instead of black ones in case you should overcome the minotaur and return victorious

in the joy of their success, however, and amidst the sports, dancing, and other

merriment with which these young folks wore away the time, they never once thought

whether their sails were black white, or rainbow colored and indeed left it entirely

to the mariners, whether they had any sails at all; thus, the vessel returned like a raven

with the same sable wings that had wafted her away, but poor king aegis day after day

and firm as he was had clambered to the summit of a cliff that overhung the sea

and there sat watching for prince Theseus homeward bound, and no sooner did

he behold behold the fatal blackness of the sails, then  he concluded that his dear son

whom he loved so much and felt so proud of had been eaten by the minotaur

he could not bear the thought of living any longer, so first, flinging his crown

and scepter into the sea, useless baubles that they were to him now, king aegis

merely stooped forward and fell headlong over the cliff and was drowned, poor soul

in the waves that foamed at its base.

This was melancholy news for prince Theseus who, when he stepped ashore,

found himself, king of all the country, whether he would or not, and such a turn

of fortune was enough to make any young man feel very much out of spirits,

however, he sent for his dear mother to Athens and by taking her advice on matters

of the state became a very excellent monarch and was greatly beloved by his people. 

The End