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Theseus and the Marathonian Bull


Medea afraid that her son would not become heir to Aegeus thrown sent Theseus on a certain to be fatal errand to capture the Marathonian Bull and bring it back to Athens.


The Marathonian Bull lived on the island of Crete and was said to be the father of the great Minotaur that guarded the Labyrinth of Crete. The Marathonian bull was the symbol of Crete’s great power. Stealing the bull would not be an easy task and most certainly would not go unpunished. King Minos was the king of Crete and the brother of Aegeus (which would make Minos Theseus uncle).


So Theseus set sail for Crete. When he arrived in Crete the town people informed him about King Minos. They told Theseus how his aunt Queen Pasiphae had given birth to a horrible half man half bull creature they named the Minotaur.Theseus was told that the Minotaur resided in the middle of a great labyrinth inside court yard of the kings castle.


Theseus set off into the hills of Crete. A grand storm blew in and Theseus found an old beggar woman who had a hut hidden within the hills. The woman’s name was Hecale. She offered refuge to Theseus. The night went on and Hecale showed the young hero much kindness. They talking into the night, and Hecale told Theseus how she was a widow who had no children. In the morning when the storm had ended, Theseus set off again to find the great bull. Hecale told Theseus that if he successfully captured the bull she would make a sacrifice to the god Zeus on behalf of the hero.


After many days of wondering around the wilderness Theseus came upon a small village. Within in the village the Great Marathonian Bull was being kept. Theseus waited until night fall and snuck into the village, stealing the Bull and heading back towards the coast of Crete. On his way back to the shore side he stopped off at Hecale's hut to show her the bull. When Theseus arrived however he found that the old woman had passed away. Feeling great sadness over the loss of the kind old lady Theseus constructed a small village and named it after Hecale in her honor. The people who came and lived in Hecale then were called Hecalinites and in a roundabout way becoming children of Hecale. Theseus then continued to the coast of Crete where he loaded the bull and sailed back to Athens.


When Theseus returned to Athens there was a great festival in his honor for bringing the power of Crete to Athens. Theseus took the bull to the temple of Athena and Apollo and sacrificed the bull. King Minos of Crete found out that the young hero had stolen the bull and set sail at once with his army to start a war with Athens. After a few weeks Minos was victorious and as punishment for both stealing the bull AND losing the war Minos demanded that every year Athens sends 7 of their strongest bravest warriors and 7 of the most beautiful maidens to Crete to be sacrificed to the Minotaur.