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The Minotaur & the Labyrinth
Transcript of The Minotaur & the Labyrinth
Prof. D Cooke & Prof. L Scarpantoni
Maps of Daedalus' flight
What is the story of the Labyrinth & the Minotaur?
The myth of the Minotaur & the Labyrinth is
one in which the horrific Minotaur, a creature with the head of a bull and the body of a man, devoured any human which got in its path. In order to stop its rampage, the King of that time, King Minos of Crete, ordered the craftsman, Daedalus to build a massive Labyrinth which they used to imprison the Minotaur.
The story goes that after the birth of the Minotaur, Daedalus was asked by King Minos to construct a place where they could imprison the Minotaur.
Daedalus built the Labyrinth, a maze like building filled with winding corridors and passageways which confused anyone who entered it so much that they could not find the way out.
Every nine years, the Athenians sent 7 young boys and 7 young girls to Crete, as a blood tribute for the unfair murder of Androgeos, the son of Minos. The tributes were cast into the Labyrinth where the Minotaur then devoured them. One year, one of the seven youths was Theseus, the son of the King of Athens. He and King Minos' daughter, Ariadne, fell in love.Ariadne feared for Theseus when he entered the Labyrinth. The story goes on to say how Ariadne helped Theseus, by smuggling him a sword which he used to kill the Minotaur, and a ball of string given to her from Daedalus himself, which Theseus used to navigate through and out of the Labyrinth, before he, Ariadne and the other tributes sailed back to the safety of Athens.
Who created the Labyrinth?
Son of Zeus and Europa, Minos became King of Crete. The word Minos is Cretan for the word "king". With the help of King Aegeus, King Minos picked seven boys and girls every nine years and sent them to Daedalus' creation, the Labyrinth to be eaten by the Minotaur. Whenever King Minos felt bored, he would train his personal navy and attacked Athens on the other side of the sea. Desperate, the King of Athens put King Minos up to a deal by offering to sacrifice their young children. If Minos were to agree he would have to leave Athens on one condition that he may never return again. The death of Minos resulted in him being burnt to his death by Daedalus with boiling water. When Minos and his two brothers died (Rhadamanthys and Sarpedon) they were raised by King Asterion and became judge of the dead. Minos was helped by Aeacus and Rhadamanthys. They judged the souls of Asians and Europeans. Minos' character appeared in Rick Riordan's fourth book Percy Jackson in The Battle of the Labyrinth.
Theseus was one of the seven Athenian boys who went into the Labyrinth but his plan was different, he wanted to KILL the Minotaur. When Theseus grew up he removed the rock that held his father's weapons. The identity of his father was revealed to him by his mother, who also suggested that he should take the newly found tools to his father in Athens. When Theseus arrived on Athens shore he didn't reveal his true identity. Aegeus gave Theseus a warm welcome but had a weird feeling about him. Aegeus was encouraged to challenge Theseus to capture and kill the Marathonian Bull. Aegeus made a decision and Theseus accepted and was successful. Days passed and Aegeus finally recognised Theseus as his son. Then it was time for Theseus to get on his way to Crete. When he was leaving his father stopped him and told him if he was to successfully kill the Minotaur he was to put up the white sails. When Theseus sailed back home after killing the Minotaur he forgot about his father's orders and left the sails as they were. Aegeus saw the black sails and was immediately filled with grief, he dived into the water and plummeted to his tragic death.
It was after the death of the Minotaur that King Minos became furious at Daedalus (for helping Theseus kill it) and he had Daedalus and his son locked into the Labyrinth to stop news of the escape of the 14 tributes. As the King guarded both land and sea, the only way for Daedalus and his son to escape was to take to the air. Daedalus crafted wings from metal and string, and used wax to old the feathers in place. Daedalus and Icarus then escaped, but Daedalus warned his son that flying to close to the sea would dislodge the feathers and flying to close to the sun would melt the wax that was holding the wings together. However, it was after they had passed Samos, Delos and Lebynthos, that Icarus, forgetting himself, flew upwards towards the sun. As the wax melted, Icarus' wings seperated, leaving the flailing boy to plummet to his death in the sea. Daedalus was filled with grief and named the land near which where Icarus fell "Ikaria". After his son's death, Daedalus went and worked at King Cocalus' court in Kamikos, Sicily, on the island south-west.
After King Minos had discovered Daedalus had escaped he became even angrier, searching for him everywhere by travelling from city to city speaking to the craftsman at that city's court, offering a challenge: he presented a spiral seashell and asked for it to be strung all the way through, hoping Daedalus was the one who solved it. Eventually, the riddle arrived at King Cocalus' court. The King immediately called for Daedalus, and using an ant with the piece of string around it, Daedalus used a drop of honey to lure the ant through the hole using it like a needle to thread the seashell onto the string. Minos knew that Daedalus had solved the riddle when he recieved the news from King Cocalus' court. He immediately went to the court and demanded that Daedalus be handed over. Fortunately, Cocalus managed to convince him to take a bath first, and Cocalus' daughters then killed Minos by burning him with scalding hot water.
Kamikos on the island's south coast
Other works of Daedalus' include:
Ariadne's Dancing floor:
Admired even by the God's, Daedalus built the floor on the space where the Labyrinth was built soon after.
Also known as the ships prow, Daedalus even invented this.
The Labyrinth of Crete
Built under King Minos' palace at Knossos, the Labyrinth was built to imprison the Minotaur.
Given to Ariadne to help Theseus, Daedalus made a ball of string which was used to navigate through the Labyrinth.
Who wanted the Labyrinth built?
The Athenian, Daedalus, or 'clever worker' in Latin, was the architect who constructed the Labyrinth of Crete. Originally, Daedalus was a simple craftsman whose helper was his son Icarus, and his apprentice was his nephew, Perdix, also known as Talos or Calos. However, Daedalus soon became the greatest architect and sculptor of Athens. It was said that the statues which came from his workshop looked alive - so alive that when Hercules saw the statue of a man in a fighting position, he though he was being attacked and smashed it with his club. When he realised he had destroyed an intricately carved statue, which was actually of him, he was extremely embarrassed and apologised to Daedalus.
Perdix, Daedalus' nephew, looked up to his uncle immensely and soon became an excellent craftsman himself. However rumors grew that the boy was even greater than his uncle. Alas, when Daedalus heard this he threw the boy from the Acropolis of Athens in his anger and jealousy.When the town heard of this, they banished Daedalus from Athens. He fled to Crete with his son, where he began work at the Court of King Minos (at his palace at Knossos). It was after the Minotaur (or Minotauras) was born that Daedalus built the magnificent Labyrinth of Crete to contain the creature, an order from King Minos. The Labyrinth was said to have countless passages and winding tunnels that opened into one another, and it seemingly had no end. It was also said that the Labyrinth was so cunningly built by Daedalus, that no-one could escape once within it (with the exception of Theseus, Prince of Athens with Ariadne's string and of course Daedalus himself with his son Icarus).