On the island of Crete a childless king died, leaving an open seat for one of his two stepsons. His stepson, Minos wanted the crown and prayed to Poseidon to help him. Poseidon sent Minos a beautiful white bull to show the people the gods had chosen Minos to be king. However, once he had the crown, Minos must sacrifice the Cretan Bull to Poseidon. Minos could not bring himself to kill the beautiful beast and gave another to the god instead. Poseidon, angered by the betrayal, cursed Minos’ wife Pasiphae to fall in love with the Cretan Bull as punishment.

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Pasiphae bore a child who was half-man half bull. He had the body of a man with the head and tail of a bull. The queen loved her child and tried to care for him, but the creature was unnatural and he grew wild and violent. The creature soon began consuming humans and became known as the Minotaur.

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Minos was disgusted by the monster, but the queen begged for her child’s life. So Minos ordered Daedalus, a master craftsman, to build an enclosure where the beast could never get out and no one could ever find it. Daedalus built and elaborate maze beneath the castle known as The Labyrinth, where the Minotaur was to spend the rest of its life.

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Minos and Pasiphae had a son of their own named Androgeus. Some say he was killed by Athenians who were envious of his many victories, while others say he was killed by the Cretan Bull after he was ordered to kill the bull by King Aegeus of Athens. Minos, seeking to avenge his son’s death, waged war on Athens and won. As punishment, Minos order that seven young men and seven young women must be given to the Minotaur to consume every year.

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When the third sacrifice approached Theseus, son of King Aegeus, volunteered to go to Crete and kill the Minotaur. Theseus said he would come home with white sails if he was victorious, or would have his crew place black sails if he was killed. When Theseus arrived in Crete he proclaimed to King Minos he would kill the monster. This did not worry Minos because even if he was able to kill the beast, Theseus would never be able to find his way out of the Labyrinth.

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Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, fell in love with Theseus and decided to help him as she knew he would never be seen again without her help. Ariadne went to the creator of the maze, Daedalus, for advice. Following his instructions, Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread, telling him to unravel it as he walked through the maze, to always go forward, always down, and never to the left or right. Theseus did as she suggested and entered the labyrinth with the thread.

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Theseus found the Minotaur and after a great battle he stabbed and killed the monster - saving the Athenians who were with him. They followed the thread back out of the maze and Theseus presented King Minos with the head of the Minotaur. Theseus took princess Ariadne with him and left the island of Crete.

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The ships stopped at Naxos for a celebration on the great victory of Theseus. Ariadne fell asleep on the shore and did not get on the boat before it left. Theseus realized too late that she was missing and was so distressed that he forgot about the promise of sails to his father.

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King Aegeus waited for his son’s return, however when he looked out over the sea he saw the black sails. So distraught at the idea of his son’s death, the King threw himself into the water below and died, since then the sea has been known as the Aegean Sea. Theseus came back home to Athens and was crowned King.

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This article is part of my mythology series.

This article was written by @bailey_marie_king on the We Heart It Writer's Team.