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Mazes and Labyrinths

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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 8054 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #15 on: March 19, 2009, 01:19:30 pm »

p. 23

CHAPTER V
THE CRETAN LABYRINTH (continued)
(ii) The Caverns of Gortyna

ACCORDING to the Romano-Greek writer Apollodorus, 1 whose "Bibliotheke" consisted of a history of the world from the fall of Troy onwards, Daedalus built the Labyrinth at Knossos for King Minos on the lines of the Egyptian Labyrinth, but of only one-hundredth part of the magnitude of the latter. This statement, which was repeated by various other ancient writers such as Pliny and Diodorus, caused many subsequent inquirers to look for evidence in Crete of a building similar to, though smaller than, that described by Herodotus and Strabo.

Nothing corresponding to such a description appeared to exist, but at Gortyna, on the south side of Crete, there was a remarkable series of winding passages, opening on the side of Mount Ida. Some authors of antiquity, such as the Roman poets Catullus and Claudian, held the opinion that this cavern, or one of the many other caves or quarries in Crete, was the real Labyrinth, and this view has been largely entertained in recent times, right up to the beginning of the present century.

The first modern traveller of note to explore the cavern was the French botanist, G. P. de Tournefort,


p. 24

who spent three years, from 1700 to 1702, travelling about Asia Minor and the Levant.

Tournefort's book, as well as being a mine of information on various subjects, makes delightful reading, whether in the original French or in John Ozell's English translation of 1718, from which we quote.

"This famous place," he says, referring to the Labyrinth, which he visited on July 1, 1700, "is a subterranean Passage in manner of a Street, which by a thousand Intricacies and Windings, as it were by mere Chance, and without the least Regularity, pervades the whole Cavity or Inside of a little Hill at the foot of Mount Ida, southwards, three miles from Gortyna. The Entrance into this Labyrinth is by a natural Opening, seven or eight Paces broad, but so low that even a middle-siz’d Man can't pass through without stooping.

"The Flooring of this Entrance is very rugged and unequal; the Ceiling flat and even, terminated by divers Beds of Stone, laid horizontally one upon another.

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