Theseus And The Minotaur
A Stories Aloud Adaptation of the Myth
A long time ago there were two kings. King Aegeus ruled Athens and King Minos ruled the island of Crete. Both kings had sons. King Aegeus’s son was called Theseus and grew into a strong handsome man, who helped people in trouble. He was famous for punishing men who wanted to hurt others.
King Minos’ son, however, was not a normal man. He grew very large and, although he had the body of a man, he had the head of a bull. He was immensely strong and vicious. Famous all over Greece, he was known as the minotaur and was considered a monster.
As he grew stronger, even King Minos was scared of him. He wanted to be rid of him, but he was worried that killing his own son would anger the gods.
So, he called upon his head architect, Daedalus, to design the largest, most difficult and complicated labyrinth in the world! The labyrinth was created and was so large, so difficult and so complicated, that Daedalus himself would get lost! Anyone who entered the labyrinth would never come out; they wouldn’t know how.
The minotaur was happy to live in the labyrinth under one condition – that he would be fed meat regularly. Not just any meat, but human meat…still alive!
And so, it was decided. The minotaur would live forever in the labyrinth and men, women and children from all over Greece would be sent… as meat. The different cities of Greece took turns to send their people to Crete, and every nine years it would be the turn of Athens!
This time, King Aegeus was wondering who he should send, when his son, Theseus said:
“Let me go, Father. I am much stronger than any other man in Athens and have the most chance of killing the Minotaur.”
Aegeus didn’t want to send his own son to such a fate, but it was true. Being the strongest, he did have the most chance of ending this forever.
So, as they loaded the ship, they decided to take two sets of sails. One set of black sails and one set of white sails. A ship carrying people to the minotaur always used black sails, as it showed how sad everyone was. But if Theseus succeeded in killing the monster, they would sail home with white sails. This meant that everyone in Athens would know they had won long before they reached the shore! And they could arrange a party.
Prince Theseus sailed to Crete. He was welcomed by King Minos and invited to stay at his palace for a week before going into the labyrinth. Theseus accepted, and while he was there he met King Minos’ daughter, Ariadne. Ariadne was young and beautiful and they both fell instantly in love. They spent the whole week together and talked of getting married.
Scared that her new beloved would never return from the labyrinth, she offered him help with his task. She handed him a long piece of silken thread and a sword. The silken thread was to tie near the entrance to the labyrinth and to unravel wherever he went, so that he would be able to follow the thread all the way back to the entrance. The sword was to kill her brother, the minotaur.
Theseus was pleased with the plan, and he kissed the princess, thanking her for her help and promising to marry her should he escape.
King Minos would have been happy for the Theseus to kill his son. The minotaur was a monster and he no longer wanted to feed men, women, and children to him. But he didn’t hold out much hope of Theseus coming back.
He led Theseus to the entrance to the labyrinth and wished him luck.
As he bravely stepped through the entrance of the labyrinth, he tied the silken thread tightly around a column and continued into the darkness, unraveling it as he went.
His sandals scraped against the sandy rocks and the noise seemed to echo through the passages. He froze and, holding his breath, listened for the monster.
He could hear a low grumbling-breathing from deep within the labyrinth and he pursued the sound. He followed passages that went right. He followed passages that went left. He followed passages that didn’t lead anywhere and he had to turn back. He had been walking for hours and hours, searching for the minotaur.
As he got closer, he could hear the monster growling and pacing, waiting for some human meat. He felt for his sword – he was ready.
A long roar rang out from somewhere ahead of him; so loud and ferocious that it spread fear through his body. The minotaur could smell him. He smelt of human meat. He would no longer have to hunt the monster, for now the monster was hunting him. He took a deep breath and controlled his fear. He focused his energy into his sword and prepared for battle.
The quickening footsteps of the minotaur drew near. Suddenly there was a great bang as the body of the beast threw itself against the corner of the passage just up ahead. Theseus stared at the hideous creature. His huge bull-head was covered in fur and his body was built of enormous muscles. The minotaurs’ eyes locked on Theseus’ and the fight began.
Nervously waiting by the entrance, were Ariadne and her father King Minos. They didn’t speak once so as not to miss a sound. For hours they heard nothing and then suddenly they recognised the loud roar of the minotaur smelling its dinner.
Ariadne hid her head in her father’s chest, fearing the worst. But then they heard more. A fight! She could hear the Minotaur grunt with effort as it attacked its prey and she could hear Theseus groan as he took a blow to the back.
Trying to work out who was winning, she held her breath and listened with all her might.
Finally, the Minotaur let out a fatal scream and the labyrinth became silent. She turned to her father with tears of joy and he too was pleased, but knew that Theseus now had the task of trying to find his way out. And no one had ever done it before.
Theseus used the last of his strength to roll the huge monster off him. In the final strike, the Minotaur had fallen onto his sword and then onto him! He stood up and rubbed his aching muscles. He had won! He took the silken thread and easily found his way back to the entrance where he was met by a smiling Ariadne.
They set sail immediately for Athens. But on their journey, the ship came under some stormy weather and they were forced to stop at the island of Naxos. They gathered supplies and settled down for the night on the shore.
The storm calmed, but not for Theseus. For he had bad dreams. He dreamed of the God Dionysus. Dionysus had noticed Ariadne coming ashore and had fallen in love with her. He demanded that Theseus leave Naxos without Ariadne, so that he could marry her and she could live in Olympus with him.
Theseus awoke in a sweat, to see his love still sleeping beside him. Though it broke his heart, he knew he must do what the god requested. So, while she slept, he quietly set sail – leaving her for Dionysus to marry.
“At least she will be happy,” he thought.
As Theseus continued his journey home without his love, his heart was in shreds. He stood all day at the stern and looked back to the direction of the island.
He was so wrapped in his sorrow, that he completely forgot to change the black sails to the white ones! So, as his ship approached Athens, the people all saw the black sails and felt sad. As black sails meant the mission had failed and that Theseus was dead.
King Aegeus was devastated. How could he live, knowing that he had sent his son to his death? He climbed up a very tall tower that stood high over a cliff, and he jumped off into the sea.
King Aegeus was dead.
Theseus, his son would now become king. He didn’t celebrate, as he had lost his father and fiancée in the same week.
But he was a hero to Athens. And to Crete. And to all of Greece, who no longer had to send their loved ones to feed the minotaur.
He did take the throne and he ruled well.