How much had Theseus given up in order to slay the Minotaur? Everything, it seemed.
Though he was royalty by birth, nothing had been handed to him. Raised by his mother and a stranger to his father, he came to manhood by virtue of his rearing and circumstance, like anyone else. Growing from boy to man was easy. It was a straight path.
The troubles started when he decided to claim what he understood to be his birthright. When he decided to leave. Setting out on a winding path towards destiny, he fought nobly to find his way. He outwitted bandits and overpowered bullies. He corralled wild animals and wrestled with cruel masters. He loved. Eventually Theseus had traveled far and conquered enough and could rest easy in his father’s home forever.
Except he couldn’t. The Minotaur was out there and he knew it.
It was the beast that called to him, perhaps had always called to him. The labyrinth was an extension of the same maze of twists and turns his life had taken, he knew. His body could feel the familiar calling of the jumbled passageways, each similar to the one next to it, each promising to take him to his dreams, each lying. Theseus had wisely heeded the advice of his lover; “Go forward, always down, never left or right.” It was this tender compass that had seen him through the winding passages and navigated him to the center of his life’s maze. And there he did it. He slew the beast.
He did it without hesitation, without emotion. The Minotaur had exacted a great toll on the world and it could be suffered no more. This was his purpose, he understood. Theseus brandished his sword and watched in horror as he sliced the beast from sex to throat. The violence of the act was unimaginable, the scene ghastly. No words will consent to describe it. Theseus alone knows what he witnessed and how it changed him. He dropped his sword in the pooling blood and fur and stumbled back into the maze.
And now he wanders, lost in his own mind. He turns left as his attention wavers. He turns right as he seeks relief. The passageways wander and confound the man who can no longer remember where his path leads. His only hope is to notice the golden thread of his lover and to follow it back home before the beast takes him.