Theseus and the Minotaur
There are so many exciting tales from the myths and legends of Ancient Greece, heroes and monsters, gods and goddesses, demigods and titans, so many that it almost seems impossible to keep track of them all. Despite this some stories are remembered and retold to this day and one of the most well known of these is arguably Theseus and the Minotaur. We all know at least the bare bones of the tale, in which Theseus the prince of Athens must enter the complex maze known as the labyrinth at the behest of King Minos of Crete. Here he must face the Minotaur, a creature that is half man, half bull with a vicious temper and an aim to kill anyone who dare enter. Not that many actually dare but rather are forced to do so.
It is said that the infamous Labyrinth was build by Daedalus (father to Icarus of the wax wings fame) beneath Knossos Palace which sits not to far from the island of Crete’s capital Heraklion. Ruins of the palace and alleged home of King Minos still stand today and can be visited, though as of yet no underground maze as been discovered. That being said if anyone had they’d have to find their way out so who knows maybe someone has?
This is less of a specific site but rather a region of Greece, Arcadia was located in the Peloponnese and was considered to be a wilderness filled with mythological creatures and even gods. Here you could find the divine spirits known as Nymphs that had power over nature itself, Dryads (a sort of tree nymph) and even the god of the wild, Pan who is said to have lived here in the forests. Pan resembles a faun, with the appearance of a man with goat like legs and is considered a rustic god. He was worshipped by the mountain people who were native to Arcadia and usually in the grottoes and caves of the land as opposed to temples. Hermes, messenger of the gods was also said to roam the region. It was here that the snakes that wrapped around his staff were supposedly found and it was here that his love, a Nymph named Penelopeia resided. Together they created a son, that son was Pan.
The region is not without its heroes either, notably the daughter of King Iasus of Arcadia named Atalanta. In this story the King is disappointed when his child turns out to be a daughter as opposed to a son, so disappointed that he left her to die on a mountaintop (talk about an overreaction). Fortunately, she was found by a bear who cared for her. Later she lived with hunters who raised her and she soon became the greatest hunter in the land. She went on to hunt the Caledonian Boar with Jason and the Argonauts, drawing first blood on the beast. Eventually she was turned into a Lion by the gods where she spent her time roaming in the forests of Arcadia. Today you can visit this region and admire it’s sheer beauty, it’s easy to see why such tales exist here.