Where was the ancient Greek maze where the Minotaur was hidden?

The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

In the heart of the labyrinth lies a vicious monstrosity, hidden in the shadows, waiting for the supple meat of an Athenian child. The story of Theseus and the slaying of the Minotaur is one of the well-known Greek mythologies that were passed down from one generation to another. So where was the ancient Greek maze where the Minotaur was hidden?

Who Was the Minotaur?

where is the maze where the minotaur was hidden

The myth is intertwined with three mortal passions: King Minos’ greed, Poseidon’s rage, and Pasiphae’s lust. The riveting story begins upon the death of King Asterius of the Island of Crete. He and his wife, Europa are childless. Minos, the child of Europa and Zeus, and the stepson of Asterius were then therefore deemed to be the rightful heir to the throne. Minos’ greed seeped. Thus, he prayed to Poseidon to send him a bull from the sea. This was to strengthen his claim to the throne, boastfully declaring that it was the will of the gods.

Minos then solemnly promised Poseidon that upon bringing the bull from the sea, he shall sacrifice it in the name of Poseidon. Hearing this promise, Poseidon made good on his part and brought forth a white Cretan bull. It was so beautiful and striking that when it came the time for Minos to sacrifice it, he refused to do so. Minos refused to slaughter the Cretan bull. Instead, he replaced it with an ordinary bull which he sacrificed in honor of Poseidon. Upon learning this trickery, Poseidon, out of anger, devised his revenge.

Poseidon exacted his revenge by making Pasiphae, Minos’ wife, fall in love with the Cretan bull. Overcome with lust and temptation, Pasiphae begged Daedalus to help her. Daedalus was a well-known architect and inventor; he built Pasiphae a hallowed wooden cow. Inside the hollowed wooden cow, Pasiphae hid and the Cretan bull eventually mated with her. An offspring was later born out of this unnatural act—he had a body of a man and a head of a bull. He was originally named Asterius, but was later known to be called the Minotaur.

Where Was The Ancient Greek Maze Where The Minotaur Was Hidden?

Where was the ancient Greek maze where the Minotaur was hidden? Distraught and aghast from the sight of Pasiphae’s offspring, King Minos instructed Daedalus to construct a labyrinth beneath the earth. This was a barren place where he would hide the monstrosity and bury the disgrace that fell upon his throne and marriage. Daedalus’ intricate design of the labyrinth was made to imprison the Minotaur. This was so that those who ventured inside it could not find their way out.

The Minotaur lived in the center of the labyrinth where he was fed with the flesh of Athenian children. These children were sent by Athens as an offering to appease King Minos for the death of his son, Androgeus, who was murdered during the Panathenaic Games. The sacrifice was made every nine years. 14 Athenian children, 7 youths and 7 maidens, were to be fed to the Minotaur.

Who Was Theseus?

In Athens, a young prince named Theseus, son of Aegeus and Aethra was coming of age.   Upon learning of the vicious demand of King Minos, the young prince Theseus, vowed to kill the Minotaur. To do so, Theseus volunteered himself to be sacrificed in the labyrinth.

Upon reaching the island of Crete, Theseus fell in love with Ariadne, the daughter of King Minos. Compelled by her love for Theseus, Ariadne asked Daedalus for his help. He later instructed that Theseus must bring a ball of thread to navigate his way inside the labyrinth. Ariadne volunteered to hold the end of the thread as Theseus made his way inside the vast labyrinth. And so in the center of the labyrinth, Theseus found the Minotaur and was determined to kill it.

With might and valor, they fought until they were both exhausted and drained. But eventually, Theseus managed to overpower and kill the Minotaur. Once the Minotaur was slaughtered, Theseus led the other Athenian children out of the labyrinth by following the thread. Now free, Theseus had set sail back to his home in Athens, bringing with him Ariadne.

The Labyrinth and Its Representation

minotaur and the labyrinth

The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur first introduced the construct of a labyrinth. Daedalus, a Greek mythology character that was renowned for his architectural skills in inventing and creating great mechanisms with the aid of humans and of gods, first introduced the labyrinth. It was explained that a labyrinth, or labyrinthos in Greek, is a place of elaborate passageways and alleys that are continuously connected by a single pathway that ends in the center of the architecture.

A labyrinth is different from a maze since a maze consists of several passageways that are interconnected by several paths. Unlike a labyrinth that consists of a single opening that is both an entrance and exit, a maze is made up of a different entrance and exit.

The Labyrinth in Greek Mythology

Many scholars of both Greek mythology and ancient religion believed that the labyrinth is a symbol for one’s journey. It was said that a man’s journey and the destined path laid by the gods are represented by the elaborate and continuous path of a labyrinth, and the center is man’s fulfillment of his destiny. The center of the labyrinth is a representation of man’s ultimate fate, and his journey in and out of the labyrinth is his cycle of life.

Another take is that when one enters a labyrinth, he is separated from the world outside. While inside the labyrinth, traversing its paths, one may discover his true essence and be given the opportunity to transform. In the myth of Theseus, the labyrinth served to be a place for him to transform himself from a youth to a hero. Theseus’ journey inside the labyrinth served as his excursion to his ultimate goal of transformation. The killing of the Minotaur sealed Theseus’ fate. And his triumph against the beast was a representation of the ultimate fulfilment of his fate.