Minos, Knossos, Crete and myths.

The island of Crete is a place of many myths. King Minos (of the Minoan civilisation) is present in a couple of the most famous, mixing life in the palace of Knossos, a labyrinth and… a Minotaur, very scary creature with human body and the head of a bull.

Here you have a brief story about the myths of Icarus and Daedalus, and one about Theseus and the Minotaur.

“Many years ago, King Minos lived on an island in the Mediterranean Sea called Crete. He asked a famous Athenian engineer named Daedalus (who lived in Crete with his son Icarus) to build a wonderful palace for him.

Daedalus and Icarus worked very hard, day and night. Finally, they built the huge palace of Knossos for King Minos and Queen Pasiphae, who liked it very much. Next to it, they built another palace with a lot of rooms: the labyrinth. Its basic function was to hold a Minotaur -a monster with a man’s body and a bull’s head- inside.

After some years, Minos’s son Androgenus was killed by some Athenians because they were jealous of his success. Furious, Minos sailed to Athens to avenge the death of his son. He sieged the town and forced the Athenians to send seven young men and seven young women to Crete every seven years for feeding the Minotaur as sacrifice. That was their fine for their defeat.

For the third sacrifice, Theseus, the son of King of Athens, volunteered to go to Crete as one of the seven young men and the seven young women, but with the intention of killing the Minotaur. As he arrived in Crete princess Ariadne -Minos’s daughter- fell madly in love with him, so she offered to help Theseus kill the Minotaur and get out of the labyrinth.

Ariadne gave Theseus the secret for the most difficult task, which was finding the way out: she gave him a ball of thread. That could be used for tying one end to the door once it closed and unrolling the thread as he moved through the building. That way, Theseus, after killing the Minotaur, found his way back and escaped by boat to Athens with Adriane and the children that were going to be offered to the Minotaur.

King Minos was extremely angry because of the death of his Minotaur. He accused Icarus and Daedalus of helping the Athenians. King Minos punished the innocent Daedalus by imprisoning him and his son Icarus inside the labyrinth.

One day Daedalus noticed birds flying overhead. This gave him an idea for escaping: wings. They needed wings. Daedalus began to gather all the bird feathers he could find and glued them together with wax. When two pairs of wings were ready, Daedalus fastened the wings to their arms, and advised Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, nor too close to the sea.

They flapped their wings and took to the sky through a high window. They left their prison and the island of Crete far behind them, but Icarus wasn’t careful: he went very close to the sun and the wax of his wings started to melt. Icarus kept flapping his wings but soon realized that he had no feathers left and that he was only flapping his bare arms, and so Icarus fell into the sea that carries his name: Icarian Sea”.

theseus_minotaur_mosaic

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