Labyrinth of Crete: The Myth Of The Minotaur
Zeus, in the form of a bull, brought Europe from the Phoenician seashore to
Gortys in Crete where he made love with her under a plane tree (or on the plane
tree after assuming the form of another sacred animal, the eagle). The plane
tree was then blessed and always remained green. Sons were born from their
union: triplets. Next, Zeus arranged the marriage of Europe to the Cretan King
Asterion (or Asterio), who appointed Europe's and Zeus' sons as his successors.
As promised, the three sons of Europe and Zeus (Minos or Minoas, Radamanthis,
Sarpidon) succeeded King Asterion to the throne of Crete. Initially they seemed
satisfied to co-govern, but Minos, who wanted the reign to be his exclusively,
ended up banishing his brothers: Radamanthis was sent to Viotia (or Cyclades)
and Sarpidon to Asia Minor. Minos became the monarch who believed the gods would
give him everything and anything he wished.
During Minos' reigning years, Daedalus, from Athens , took up residence in
Knossos, after he was exiled to Crete for committing a crime in his own country.
In Crete he eventually became the official architect and sculptor for Minos. In
Knossos he built the Palace, the Labyrinth, the wooden likeness of a cow for
Pasiphae, and even helped Ariadne and Thiseas kill the horrible Minotaur.
However, when Minos became disillusioned with him, he jailed Daedalus together
with his son, Icarus. The brilliant engineer didn't stay long - he made a pair
of wings for himself and Icarus and they flew away. The wings were made of
feathers held together with wax. Daedalus warned his son not to fly too close to
the sun, as it would melt his wings, and not too close to the sea, as it would
dampen them and make it hard to fly.
They successfully flew from Crete, but Icarus grew exhilarated by the thrill of
flying and began getting careless. Flying too close to the sun, the wax holding
together his wings melted from the heat and he fell to his death, drowning in
the sea. The Icarian Sea, where he fell, was named after him. Daedalus lamented
his dead son and then continued to Sicily, where he came to stay at the court of
Cocalus in a place called Camicus.
Of Daedalus' many ingenious works, the most famous was the Labyrinth - the
gigantic palace comprised of clusters of rooms and corridors so complex and
convoluted that only Daedalus himself was able to find the way out again. It was
in this Labyrinth that the Minotaur, the horrible creature who was the
love-child of Pasiphae's perverse affair with the bull from the sea - was kept.
From the book
"The Labyrinth of Messara" by Kaloust Paragamian and Antonis Vasilakis.
English translation by Lou Duro for ExploreCrete.com