Study Guide

Theseus: The Minotaur and the Labyrinth Minotaur = Minoans

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Minotaur = Minoans

Could it be that the story of Theseus and the Minotaur is more than it seems? Is it possible that this myth is an allegory for actual historical events? A lot of folks have taken a shot at unlocking the story's hidden meaning. One popular theory is that the tale represents the Greeks freeing themselves from the influential Minoan culture of Crete.

Archaeologists have confirmed that there was once a powerful and advanced Bronze Age civilization on the island. Sir Arthur Evans, the British archeologist who discovered the remains of culture, named it "Minoan" after the legendary King Minos. The Minoans were a powerful merchant people whose fleets dominated the Mediterranean, long before the rise of Classical Greece.

Eventually, however, the Minoan Civilization fell apart and the Mediterranean became dominated by Greek culture. No one's really sure why the Minoans lost influence, but some theories say that invasions from Greece contributed to Crete's downfall. So, when some people read the story of the Greek hero Theseus slaying the Cretan Minotaur and defying King Minos, they see the tale this switch-a-roo of Mediterranean power.

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