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Mazes and Labyrinths

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Author Topic: Mazes and Labyrinths  (Read 3104 times)
Kabrina Teppe
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Posts: 1279

« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2009, 01:24:38 pm »

of the Labrys, which gave rise to the classic legend, the idea of the Minotaur originating in the practice of training captives to participate in the dangerous sport of bull-leaping. (Tauros = bull, hence Minotaur = Bull of Minos.) We will refer further to the etymology of "labyrinth" in a later chapter. The palace was certainly of sufficient complexity to render it difficult for the uninitiated to find their way about it, but the plan of its remains exhibits no resemblance to a designed labyrinth of the conventional type. There is, however, a suggestion of the latter in the meander pattern painted on one of the walls, to which reference has been made above. The notion as to the Labyrinth having been a prison from which escape was impossible may also have some connection with two deep pits beneath the palace, whose function was possibly that of dungeons for prisoners.

In considering the origin of the legend, we must remember that a period of several centuries elapsed between the destruction of the Knossian buildings and the first written account of the Labyrinth, and must take into account the probability that the people who in later ages became the dominant race in Crete would be likely to make ample use of their imagination in formulating an explanation of the vast and complicated ruins of the burnt city, with their mysterious frescoes and enigmatic symbols.

It may also be borne in mind that the excavations in Crete have by no means reached a final stage, and that, although no architectural remains of a plan conforming to the usual conception of a formal labyrinth are yet forthcoming, there is a possibility that something of the kind may yet turn up, though indeed the chance seems very remote. Even as this book is going to press appears an article in The Times by Sir Arthur Evans announcing yet further enthralling discoveries; he finds abundant signs of a great earthquake, causing ruin over the whole Knossian area, about i 600 B.C., also evidence

p. 36

[paragraph continues] --including portable altars and huge ox-skulls--indicating an expiatory sacrifice recalling Homer's words, "in bulls doth the Earthshaker delight"; and finally, on a floor-level about thirty feet down, the opening of an artificial cave with three rough steps leading down to what was apparently the lair of some great beast. "But here, perhaps," says Sir Arthur, "it is better for imagination to draw rein."

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