“Where are you beefy breath?”
“Ever considered life as an inside trader?”
Theseus was an ancient King of Athens who is best known for killing The Minotaur and for abducting Helen of Troy to become his child bride. He was brave when it was good for his heroic reputation but a full-on arsehole in private. Theseus abandoned lovers and friends across the Mediterranean if they out stayed their usefulness to him. He was an arch bullshitter who would have been forgotten if hadn't been involved in killing the Minotaur in its windowless labyrinth, trying to game financial outcomes in Greek mythology. It was this that upset the Olympian Gods and led them to put a contract out on the bull headed man. A 'hero' was required and one was found.
Theseus's background was part human, part divine and the rest lies. His mother was Aethra from a Greek hicksville settlement called Troezen. She was promised to King Aegeus of Athens and the couple married at Aethra's home temple. The marital nuptials were spoiled by Aegeus getting filthy drunk and passing on the bed. Aethra decided she needed a midnight swim in the sea where she met the Greek God Poseidon on one of his 'surfing' trawls of any sexually available nymph. The couple met, rolled around in the surf a lot and a baby was conceived. Poseidon deposited his one night stand back in her bedroom. Aegeus woke up a bit latter wondering why his new wife smelt of seaweed and diesel oil. He eventually guessed the truth: She had been unfaithful with a lecherous sea devil.
Aegeus could have killed or rejected his wife for this bit of aquatic adultery but he had to bear in mind that child was going to be Poseidon's. It would be very unwise to upset old fish breath by doing something bad to his son. Somewhat surprisingly, the resulting child Theseus turned out to be relatively normal boy. Poseidon's children were normally beasts of the deep or cannibalistic school bullies. Still, Aegeus's pride had been hurt so instead he divorced Aethra. She moved back home to bring up the child but Aegeus would pay full maintenance. If Theseus wanted to know about his true father, the clues would be left under a huge rock on the road to Athens. Underneath was buried an old pair of monogrammed sandals, a clam shell, a spear and a copy of Chariot Spotting Guide (1200 BC Edition).
The old king then returned to Athens and married Medea, ex-wife of Jason and the Argonauts. Since Medea had help murder her father, brother and her children by Jason, she said 'families are not for me' to Aegeus. Aegeus reluctantly agreed and waited for the next 20 years to see if Theseus would show his true heroic qualities or slip away into dull mediocrity.
Early heroics (dull stuff)
Theseus grew up to be exceptional strong swimmer (a legacy of his true dad) and quite handsome. His mother told him about the rock where he would find his true identity. Theseus couldn't move it until he said the magic words 'Dwayne Johnson'. Theseus didn't understand the sea shell or the decayed remains of a book but the spear came in handy. The sandals looked good too, they fitted perfectly. The attached ticket 'Collect by Thursday' puzzled him but saw they he could read the address.It was a street in Athens.
Along the way, Theseus kept running into various bandits with peculiar killing habits. He dispatched them all and finally arrived in Athens to look for the shoe shop on the repair ticket. The cobbler recognised it and pointed towards the palace. Theseus headed off but took a diversion to the Acropolis where he saw a strange, muted festival. A group of young men and women were wailing, holding their lottery tickets. Theseus asked why they were crying when they had won a free holiday to Crete. One said 'so you don't know who the Minotaur is then?' Theseus said he didn't but would ask at the royal palace.
So far this epic has hardly got any bard or audience excited. It now changes into a very different gear when we come to the Minotaur. He was the son of the Queen Pasiphae of Crete and a literal hunk of beef, a prize specimen in King Minos's herd. The bull had been meant for a sacrifice to Poseidon but Pasiphae intervened and rehoused the bull in his own pen inside a disused temple dedicated to Aphrodite.
This caused 'double umbrage' with the offended deities and that Aphrodite had overheard Pasiphae call her 'The Goddess of Lust'. Since Pasiphae held membership of the immortal club (her dad was the Titan Helios), she was beyond the usual punishments the Greek Gods could inflict on mere mortals. Instead Aphrodite came up with a humiliating revenge: She was able to secretly inspire Pasiphae with an unnatural lust for the bull.
The Cretan queen asked the King's carpenter and in-house Mr Screwfix, Daedalus of Athens and his young apprentice (and son) Icarus to come up with a solution to facilitate the 'coupling'. Daedalus tried to delay doing anything - claiming he was working on creating a low budget method of airbourne travel and was waiting for a delivery of wax and feathers. Pasiphae threatened that if he disobeyed, she would accuse him of wanting to sleep with her in front of the short tempered Minos. Daedalus got the broad hint and started work.
The eventual result was a brightly coloured, huge wooden cow which you could open up and climb inside. Daedalus got one of Pasiphae's measurements from a maid servant and showed it the queen. It also came with a sound tube which if you shouted into from the inside would translate the human voice into the sound of a heifer on heat. It was supplied with breathing holes in the front and an area in the back to match the location of a cow's vagina.
Daedalus and Icarus unveiled the 'Wooden Cow of Crete to Pasiphae. She asked 'does it work?' Father and son gave out awkward coughs and said they didn't know and were unable to test. Pasiphae would have to strip naked to fit inside, placing her hands and feet into the wooden limbs provided. They also suggested a lot of extra lubricant and would leave a bowl inside for her to access. To assist her modesty, a curtain was drawn around the cow. One of Pasiphae's trusted maid servants Nana would have to be let into the secret to help her mistress climb in and out.
Pasiphae persuaded her husband to go on a business/raiding trip to Greece and set up her encounter with the bull. To help move it, Pasiphae roped in her other servants and soldiers to push it into a field and erected a screen around it. Out of sight of anyone else, Pasiphae removed her clothes and settled into position. Nana likewise removed her clothes and wore the Queen's robes with a hood up so no one could see the switch. The screen was removed and a bell rung. This was the signal for the bull to be led into the field by Daedalus and Icarus with the crowd kept well back. Everyone had been encouraged to bring along their musical instruments which would also mask any suspicious human sound coming from the cow.
Daedalus and Icarus walked to the wooden cow and waved a red flag. The bull at first looked very angry, snorting wildly until he caught site of the cow. He reared up and raced towards the immovable object. Nana, Daedalus and Icarus then stood aside as the bull mounted the cow, a cry inside indicating that 'contact' had been made.
This graphic sex scene had them roaring with laughter on Mount Olympus. Zeus was not amused, seeing the entire episode as a joke on him (Zeus had often 'played the bull') in his various affairs and sped Minos back from his holiday. Pasiphae who had been in a bullish trance 'woke' up horrified and shouted to get the bull off her. Minos arrived and opened up the cow to see his wife inside. He had Nana killed (blame the servants) and imprisoned Daedalus and Icarus for helping the Queen in her unnatural desires. Pasiphae could barely walk after her sexual encounter. The bull meanwhile kicked the Wooden Cow to pieces in frustration.
The Cretan Cowboy
Minos and Pasiphae managed to patch up their marriage and carried on as before, at least until the birth of her son. Hopes that the boy which they called 'Asterion' would somehow outgrow his bizarre parentage were somewhat dashed when his first horns start to develop. Though the rest of Asterion's body remained human shape, his head, hands and feet grew more 'cow like'. Nails and toenails developed in hooves whilst his nose and snout elongated. He kept snorting and raking the ground when got angry. Minos decided that was enough and obliged his still imprisoned handyman Daedalus to come up with a new home for the bull headed boy. It would be a puzzle prison called the labyrinth. And whilst they were about it, Minos and Pasiphae disowned Asterion and got his name legally changed to 'The Minotaur'. Bad luck beastie boy.
It took awhile what to feed The Minotaur until he devoured the man sent into the labyrinth to deliver his daily vegetables. The monster was no longer a strict vegetarian and was soon chomping his way through a slave a week. Minos asked for volunteers but got no takers. He would need another regular supply elsewhere. It happened Minos had an idea and a pre-formed prejudice:Daedalus the Athenian's home city would provide the victims in future.
We left Theseus wandering the Athenian palace looking for his dad. The first person he did meet was Queen Medea who knew who he was. She said Aegeus would be proud to meet his long lost son but that it was up to Theseus to show he was worthy of the honour of doing something suitably heroic. He swore an oath to kill the Minotaur which Medea eagerly verified. Aegeus reluctantly accepted it and added Theseus's name to the list of victims to be sent to Crete.
To pass himself off as a youth, Theseus shaved his legs, plucked his eyebrows and he was she to be called 'Apollonia'. The name changed worked and when they arrived in Crete, King Minos checked off those who for the Minotaur's evening meal and who to keep back for a weekend snack 'after some fun'.
Being Greek, Theseus put up with Minos's interest and was placed in the women's quarter. His disguise wasn't rumbled until he saw Minos's daughter Phaedra. She was beautiful and naive, a talent that always got Theseus's interest. He was also notice by Phaedra's sister Ariadne who liked to knit tapestry's depicting her gruesome brother eating his victims. They both hated living in Crete and wanted to move to Athens for more excitement. Though the myth isn't explicit here, we can presume Theseus got to know the women very well because a few hours later they were eager recruits to help Theseus's with his heroic quest. Ariadne explained what she would do.
"Asterion thinks like a bull but eats like a cannibal. Anyway, I am going to visit him later as I have knitted something to keep his horns warm. I will then leave him some wine for my brother to get drunk. I will then leave a ball of wool in his lair and...
"I think I have lost the thread of this myth," said Theseus. "..You've got the idea..." smiled Phaedra.
Theseus borrowed one of Minos's golf club and waited with Phaedra at the entrance of the Labyrinth. Inside he could hear squeals and growls and then silence. Presently Ariadne appeared holding a length of yarn.
"Should be easy. The Minotaur has just finished eating that friend of yours. He will be drowsy now." Theseus reeled in the wool slowly, following a a path that took him past many gruesome sights. Presently he came across the Minotaur, asleep in front of a bank of computer screens and half eaten arm propping up a stack of papyrus. Theseus did nothing heroic like "I am over here" or "Fight Like a bull, die like a man and vice-versa." No, he just got behind the Minotaur and whacked him dead with Minos's golf club. Myth accomplished. There was a round of applause on Mount Olympus. Time to leave.
That actually is the sum of the story. There is no extended dialogue scene, a lot of bullshit from the bull head or the nominal hero of the story or why the creature's sisters were so keen to help a stranger kill him. At least Medusa turned her victims into stone. The Minotaur was a real let down and easy to kill.
Return and Abandon
Theseus judged it was a good time to leave. He had just enough time to have the Minotaur's head cut off, stuffed and mounted to be hung on a wall as proof of deed. The return journey wasn't so happy. Phaedra was far more pleasing to Theseus than her sister so he abandoned Ariadne on an island, upping anchor whilst she was still on the beach topping up her tan. This particular bit of unheroic behavior gained Theseus a big fat black mark and it got worse when Ariadne eventually found someone to rescue her who happened to be the trainee god Dionysus. From then on Ariadne how a new Olympian to support her and get revenge on her former lover and treacherous sister.
A mix up in the messages (by way of semaphore and hand signals) convinced King Aegeus his son was dead so her threw himself off a cliff and named a sea after him. Since Medea had also wanted Theseus dead too, she left town stealing as many silver spoons and gold plate she could load on a horse and cart. But before she said her final goodbye, Medea cursed Theseus would 'die like his father one day.'
Theseus returned home a victor and placed his grisly Minotaur trophy above his throne so that everyone could see what he killed in Crete. Phaedra became Queen too but the Olympians hadn't finished with them. Theseus never did another heroic deed but made plenty of bad moves. He cheated on Phaedra with the Amazons and brought one home to share the palace in a new 'threesome' arrangement. In revenge Phaedra seduced Theseus's son Hippolytus (the product of one of his earlier exploits between the sheets) but that ended badly with death for Phaedra and Hippolytus.
Disillusioned with life in general, Theseus attention turned to younger women. He kidnapped Helen of Troy when she still Helen of Nowhere but was told to release her as she was needed for a new epic. Theseus then got involved in harebrained scheme with a mate to kidnap Persephone Queen of the Dead. He only got released that time when his old friend Hercules happened to be visiting to take Cerberus away for a long walk 'topside'. Staggering out of his seaside palace after heavy night of drinking and fornication, Theseus fell off a cliff near Athens and died, in the exact same spot as his father Aegeus all those years earlier. Theseus went to Hades again...this time for good.