Labyrinth Picture

Knossos Palace – Crete, Greece.

Literally, the Greek word, labyrinth ( labyrinthos, λαβύρινθος ) , means a maze (an unnecessarily complicated building) or any spiral body (a sea shell). The word derives from "labrys", which means Double Axe, the most sacred symbol of the Minoan religion. Evidence of the significance of the Double Axe for the Minoans is apparent from the many seals, frescos, vases and larnakes (clay coffins) that were painted or inscribed with this powerful symbol.

The most famous labyrinth in history is, of course, the maze of King Minos on the island of Crete. The historical site of Knossos (see: Knossos and Knossos II ) is usually identified as the site of the Labyrinth. The mythological Labyrinth was an elaborate structure designed and built by the legendary craftsman and architect, Daedalus. This Labyrinth was a chamber whose passageways were so winding that those unfamiliar with them had difficulty in making their way out. In this Labyrinth, the Minotaur (a creature with a head and tail of a bull on the body of a man) was maintained and here it devoured the youths who were sent from Athens. When the Greek hero Theseus reached Athens, he learned of the Minotaur and the sacrifices, and wanted to end this. He volunteered to go to Crete as one of the victims. Upon his arrival in Crete, he met Ariadne, Minos's daughter, who fell in love with him. She promised she would provide the means to escape from the maze if he agreed to marry her. When Theseus did, she gave him a simple ball of thread, which he was to fasten close to the entrance of the maze. He made his way through the maze, while unwinding the thread, and he stumbled upon the sleeping Minotaur. He beat it to death and led the others back to the entrance by following the thread.

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