This is a chapter of Evergreen Stories by W. M. L. Hutchinson. It includes the following stories: King Midas and His Strange Adventures — Alcestis, the Noble Wife — The Real Helen — Cupid and Psyche — The Vision of Er — Circe, the Island Witch — Bellerophon, the Rider of Pegasus — How Theseus Slew the Minotaur — Odysseus in the Land of Shadows — Heracles and the Poisoned Robe | The Story of Pheidippides — The Story of Solon, Croesus, and Cyrus
How Theseus Slew the Minotaur has the following chapters: 1. The Story of Theseus before His Birth | 2. Theseus Reunites with His Father Aegeus | 3. Theseus Finds Out about the Tributes for King Minos | 4. Ariadna Decides to Help Theseus | 5. Daedalus Helps Ariadna Help Theseus | 6. What Happened Once Theseus Left the Labyrinth | 7. Ariadna’s Destiny | 8. Daedalus and His Son Icarus
The lair of the Minotaur was in the inmost recesses of a vast underground building called Labyrinth in the Cretan tongue. It had been built for King Minos by the famous artificer Daedalus, on purpose to keep the monster and his cannibal orgies concealed from human eyes. Daedalus therefore built a maze of winding, vaulted passages, so artfully contrived that whoever entered came before he was aware to the central den, and if he then fled ere the Minotaur could seize him, he wandered hopelessly lost till he came to the den once more — but never could he find the entrance to the maze.
Now Minos believed that the secret of the Labyrinth was known only to himself and Daedalus, for when it was finished he had shut up there the luckless masons who built it, to be devoured by its awful inmate. And he only spared Daedalus the like fate in order to use his peerless skill on other works. So he gave Daedalus a lodging and workshop in the palace, paid him magnificently, and lavished favors upon him. And the Princess Ariadne, then a child, loved nothing better than to visit the workshop and watch the great craftsman either carving a statue in cypress wood or painting in enamel, or making some rare piece of goldsmith’s work — for of all these arts he was master.
Daedalus, I must tell you, was no Cretan, but an Athenian, who had fled his country and sought the powerful protection of King Minos because he had slain a fellow citizen by mischance. The lonely exile’s heart warmed to the beautiful little princess; he soon loved her like a daughter of his own, and, as she grew older, confided to her all his dealings with her father.
Thus Ariadne knew all about the Labyrinth, and that Theseus must wander therein till he perished of hunger, even if by valor and good fortune he should slay the Minotaur. Hopeless seemed that adventure — but what is too hard for a woman’s wit when love has sharpened it?
By tears and prayers, Ariadne so wrought upon Daedalus —who, besides, had kept a kindness towards his fellow countrymen— that he gave her the means to save Theseus.
“Give your lover,” said he, “this ball of linen thread; bid him fasten one end of it to the door post of the Labyrinth, and carry the ball with him, letting it unwind as he goes onward; by this clue, if the gods grant him to overcome the monster, he will find his way back through the maze. But even when free of the Labyrinth, how will he escape from Minos?”
“I have provided for that,” said Ariadne. And so she had…
King Minos was bland as ever when the next morning he thus accosted Theseus: “Princely son of Aegeus, I hear that strange tales are rife among the Athenians concerning the fate of their children who come as hostages to Crete. Now you yourself are witness that they suffer no ill-usage at my hands, and the rumor is false that says they are thrown into the den of a man-eating monster. But true it is that by divine dispensation such a monster hath his dwelling beneath my palace — and if you, gallant prince, can rid me of that pest by slaying him in his lair, I will remit forever the tribute Athens owes me.”
“I take the challenge, king,” said Theseus eagerly; “only swear to me by most high Zeus, whom we both adore, to keep your promise.”
Minos took that oath, nothing doubting, and straightway led the young Athenian to the Labyrinth… As the heavy iron door shut with a clang, the stern, black-bearded king turned away, smiling grimly.
“There goes a dainty morsel,” he muttered, “for Pasiphaë’s child.”