Theseus and the Labyrinth

During the late Bronze Age, well over a millennium before the birth of Christ, the Minoan King on Crete held the Athenian king to ransom. Every nine years the Athenian king sent as tribute seven male youths and a like number female virgins, the cream of Athenian society, to Knossos on Crete. Once on Crete the Athenian youths were fed into the dark heart of the gigantic Labyrinth, there to die at the hands of the dreaded Minotaur Asterion, unnatural son of the Minoan King’s wife and a bull.

One year the Athenian king sent his own son Theseus as part of the sacrifice. Theseus was determined finally to stop the slaughter, and to this end he was aided by Ariadne, daughter of the Minoan king, half-sister to Asterion and Mistress (or High Priestess) of the Labyrinth. Ariadne shared with Theseus the secrets and mysteries of the Labyrinth, and taught him the means by which Asterion might be killed. This she did because she loved Theseus.

Theseus entered the Labyrinth, and, aided by Ariadne’s secret magic, bested the tricks of the Labyrinth and killed Asterion in combat. Then, accompanied by Ariadne and her younger sister Phaedre, Theseus departed Crete and its shattered Labyrinth for his home city of Athens.

However, on the voyage back to Athens Theseus had a dream in which the Gods told him Adriene was meant for other things than to be his wife, and so Theseus abandoned a distraught Adriene on an island. (In other version of the legend, Theseus threw Adriene over for her younger sister, Phaedra.)

It was a poor reward for aiding Theseus. Betrayal rewarded with betrayal, perhaps.

Forgetting Adriene, Theseus sailed back to Greece and Athens, still carrying with him the secret of the Labyrinth which would later be called the Troy Game.

Many years later, when Theseus was an old man, he fell in love with a beautiful woman called Helen. He abducted her, and lived with her for some years, having with her a child. Theseus, smitten with an old man’s love for a much younger woman, told Helen the secret of the Labyrinth.

Further years passed. Theseus returned Helen to her father, and she married the King of Sparta, Menelaus. Then a prince of Troy, Paris, fell in love with Helen, and she with him, and they fled to Troy, thus initiating the Trojan War.