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
Whylom, as olde stories tellen us,Chaucer, The Knightes Tale
there was a duk that highte Theseus;
of Athenes he was lord and governour,
and in his tyme swich a conquerour,
that gretter was there noon under the sunne.
Ful many a riche contree had he wonne…
The rede statue of Mars, with spere and targe,
so shyneth in his whyte baner large,
that alle the feeldes gliteren up and down;
and by his baner born is his penoun
of gold ful riche, in which ther was y-bete
the Minotaur, which that he slough in Crete.
“Wonders are many,” said Odysseus, when Circe had finished the tale of Bellerophon; “and I myself have seen strange things enough in my wanderings. But so strange a monster as the Chimaera I have neither seen nor heard of.”
“I could tell you of a stranger one still,” replied Circe, and I will do so, if you please, tomorrow night. But now it is high time to go to rest.”
The next night, Odysseus and his comrades reminded the witch of her promise, and she related the following story…
Aegeus, king of Athens, was prosperous in other things, but his grief was that he had no child, though twice married. So, when his second wife died, he went to inquire of the oracle at Delphi. But the god gave him dark counsel, in these words: “Touch not the mystic vessel, until thou hast returned to Athens”.
Aegeus could make nothing of this, so he resolved to visit his friend and neighbor, King Pittheus of Troezen, who had a great name for wisdom, and ask him to interpret the oracle. Now Pittheus perceived that it signified that Aegeus should not take to wife any woman but an Athenian, but in his subtlety he declared himself unable to interpret it, for he had one fair daughter, named Aethra; and as Troezen was but a petty kingdom, he greatly desired to ally himself by marriage with the rich and powerful king of Athens.
“Though I have no son to reign in my stead,” he thought, “the sons of my daughter shall rule over both Troezen and Athens.”
With this design, he hospitably pressed King Aegeus to tarry awhile under his roof, trusting that Aethra’s beauty would do the rest. And, as he hoped, Aegeus fell so deeply in love with the maiden that nothing would serve him but to marry her then and there. But wise as Pittheus was, he could not read the heart of a girl. Aethra was as much in love as her bridegroom; and on their wedding night, she revealed to him the interpretation of the oracle, which her father had told her, entreating pardon for her share in the deceit.
“Nay, sweetheart,” said Aegeus, “I love you nevertheless; you did your part like a dutiful daughter. But vows made through fraud bind no man, nor dare I cross the will of Apollo, so I will away to Athens with the first light; only, now I bethink me, pray come with me a little way out of the town, and there we will say farewell.”
So they two stole out of Troezen at daybreak and came where a great stone stood by the wayside. There Aegeus halted and, rolling back the stone —for he was as strong as a bull— he scooped a hole with his sword in the ground it had covered, laid the sword and his sandals therein, and rolled back the stone overall.
Then said he: “Fair Aethra, the gods may grant that you shall bear me a son. If it be so, and he grows to manhood, let him bring my sword and sandals to me for a token, and I will acknowledge him”. So saying, he left her and went his way to Athens.