You are here


Story summary

Part 1: the death of Talos (4 min 14 sec)

In Athens there lives a brilliant inventor called Daedalus. Athene loves him but not as much as she loves his nephew, a precocious boy of 12, who has invented the first maze, kite and saw. Jealous and fearful that his nephew’s skills will surpass his own Daedalus hurls the young man from the great temple to his certain death. Owl-eyed Athene, seeing Talos tumble, transforms the boy into a lapwing, the only bird afraid of heights.

Part 2: at the court of King Minos (7 min 52 sec)

To escape punishment Daedalus flees to Crete where King Minos welcomes him. Soon Minos seeks assistance from Daedalus, for he has no son to inherit his throne. Daedalus devises a potion and soon Queen Pasiphae is pregnant. A boy is born, Asterius, half human, half bull. Unable to accept the child yet unwilling to kill their son Minos and Pasiphae once again seek help from Daedalus; he recreates Talos’ maze, a labyrinth into which the child is placed. Here, never experiencing human touch or the warmth of the sun the half human grows and develops an insatiable hunger for human flesh. In order to sate his son’s appetite Minos orders nation after nation to send young men for his army, young men who are never seen again. Rumours of the monster, the Minotaur, spread.

Part 3: Theseus arrives in Crete (5 min 58 sec)

When the time arrives for seven Athenians to be taken, King Minos picks out Theseus, son of King Aegeus, as one of the victims and the young man willingly accepts his fate. As he departs he makes two promises: to Aigle, a beautiful Athenian woman, he vows that he will make her his queen on his return from Crete; and to his father he promises that if his mission is successful he will exchange his black sails for white as a way of letting his father know the outcome of his voyage. Once they arrive in Crete the Athenian youths are fed to the Minotaur one by one, until only Theseus is left alive.

Part 4: Theseus kills the Minotaur (7 min 12 sec)

Ariadne, daughter of Minos, who has fallen deeply in love with Theseus, offers to help him avoid the fate of his companions. She seeks Daedalus’ assistance and when he at first refuses to help, threatens to reveal to Minos that Daedalus has a son, Icarus, whose existence he has kept hidden. Daedalus leaves, just inside the labyrinth, a blazing crown, flaxen thread and bronze sword Theseus needs to slay the monster. After successfully dispatching the monster, Theseus and Ariadne board his Athenian ship and set the Cretan fleet ablaze. Soon Minos and his queen are woken to billowing smoke, a missing daughter and the bloodied head of their slain son. Daedalus is sent for and his young son discovered. In fury Minos throws them into the labyrinth to rot. At once Daedalus begins to hatch a plan for their escape.

Part 5: Theseus returns to Athens (4 min 15 sec)

Meanwhile Theseus and Ariadne reach the island of Naxos, where they feast and rest. Waking in the night Ariadne’s heart is broken when she spies Theseus sailing away and hears his cruel taunts. Her tears are seen by Dionysus who in pity makes her his queen, setting her blazing crown as a constellation in the heavens. Continuing his journey Theseus spies the cliffs of Athens only to see his father, Aegeus, falling to his death, believing the black sails indicate his son is dead. Theseus recovers his father’s body from that stretch of water now known as the Aegean Sea.

Part 6: escape from Crete (4 min 2 sec)

In the labyrinth Daedalus formulates an escape plan. Using wax and the bones and feathers of birds the master craftsman makes two pairs of wings. As he fits the wings to Icarus, he warns his son to keep his distance from the sun to avoid the wax being melted by the heat. Icarus pays no heed to his father’s words: the wax melts, the wings begin to shed their feathers and Icarus tumbles into the sea. Daedalus retrieves his child’s body from what is now known as the Icarian Sea. As Daedalus buries his son beneath a night sky lit by the mocking splendour of Ariadne’s starry crown, he spies a lapwing and weeps, remembering another falling boy.