The Storyteller: Greek Myths (1990) s01e01 Episode Script

Theseus & the Minotaur

Where are we? How should I know? I don't like it.
You should learn not to bark! You shouldn't rob the dead! You take coins from their mouths.
I didn't take coins, I exchanged them for smaller valuables.
That 's terrible.
The gods notice, you insult people-- You bite people.
I'm a dog.
It's my business to bite people.
Athenian pig! That's you! Do you know where you are? Look around.
Are there bones at your feet? Ask them about that monster.
Ask them how to get out! We should never have come to Crete.
I've never liked islands.
You get stuck on them.
The Labyrinth.
This must be the Labyrinth of Knossos.
Nobody's been here for centuries.
This was the Minotaur's prison.
1,000 Athenians died in these passages.
1,000! That's a nice round number.
Let's leave it at that.
The Minotaur must have charged that way.
Trampled that very path.
The Minotaur.
When you say charged, do you mean.
What do you mean? Charged, charged.
Half man, half bull.
Mad with hunger and sadness.
Until a hero came with a bold heart and a bright sword.
10 centuries ago, a creature was born.
Child of a terrible passion.
Son of a queen, son of a bull.
A creature so monstrous Minos, King of Crete, had this maze built to hide him.
Ever seven ears there was a blood tribute paid to Crete.
Ever seven ears a black-sailed ship came from Athens.
Seven youths in their prime seven pure maidens were taken as sacrifice brought here to the labyrinth where ever passage is a promise broken.
Ever way out is a way in.
And where the Minotaur's savage appetite for human flesh could be dealt with in the dark.
But there was one person who came and went at will in the beast's domain.
: Ariadne, daughter of Minos, the king.
Every day she visited the creature cared for it, pitied it down in the dark, shut away with its secrets.
It's me.
I'm here.
Come close.
Come here.
She knew the heart was human, no matter what the face.
Come close.
No matter what she saw.
No matter what she heard.
The cries of the victims the pitiful cries awful.
Many leagues away from Crete a bull was being sacrificed watched by a mother and her son, Theseus.
She had never told him who his father was bound by a promise made 1 7 years before.
Now Theseus was growing up, and she knew that soon he would leave her.
Just as his father had done before him.
Why do you weep? At the bull's death? No.
Then what? I was thinking of the pine forest.
Of a rock, and the high ground, and the forest.
When you can move the rock, you will find out who your father is.
I cannot! Then wait one summer.
Why are you happy? Because when you can move the rock, you will leave me.
I promise.
But Theseus couldn't wait another summer.
He was there, morning after morning straining at the rock, tearing his muscles.
Until one day the dawn still damp in his hair he felt the rock give.
Then, with one last effort he heaved it away.
Mother was my father a great warrior? Your father is a king.
Your father is Aegeus, King of Athens.
Theseus heard the story of his birth and vowed to go to Athens and make himself known to his father.
I will come back.
I promise.
Go to Athens by sea.
Don't risk the coast road.
Danger will find you soon enough.
Did he go by sea? No.
He went by the coast road, plagued by robbers, giants, bandits.
And on the long journey, he slew Procrustes Sciron the kicker, Sinis the pine bender until at last he came to the great fortress of Athens rising up from the sea.
And with the dust of the journey still on his skin he sought audience with Aegeus, his father.
It was 17 ears since Aegeus had left Theseus' mother.
Now his beard was gray.
And another woman was by his side.
: Medea.
I thank you, lord, for greeting a stranger.
Word of your great adventures reaches the king.
Slayer of giants, we hear.
Scourge of bandits.
I wished the road between my home and Athens safe for travellers.
Where is that home? Troezen in the west.
Troezen? My lord is trusting.
I tell him, as his priestess, as mother to his sons be wary of those who arrive with blood on their hands.
I seek purification from the king.
Of course you do.
What is your name, warrior? Theseus, lord.
Your lineage? Some say my father is of the sea.
Some say he is a great king.
The king is insulted by riddles.
Does he have your allegiance? I would give my life for him.
I would take life from all who are his enemies.
The king invites you to feast with him this evening.
First, with his blessing, go to the river Cephissus and be purified.
Then you are welcome in Athens.
I don't like her.
She's a witch.
She was a witch.
She was also a mother.
And she knew Theseus.
She knew nothing would stand in his way.
Not love, not fear, not a promise.
Theseus went to the River Cephissus and washed himself in readiness for the feast.
Medea, wanting the kingdom for her own sons also made preparation mixing secret herbs and poisonous spices.
Welcome, hero.
My lady, my lord.
Your sword.
Forgive me, lord.
I wear it in peace.
Drink, friend, drink the wine.
No! Theseus, my son! My son! Seize her.
Seize the sorceress! Curse on you, Aegeus of Athens.
A curse on your son.
You will bring each other nothing but pain and sorrow.
Before a year is out, grief will poison you.
Poison you.
Spitting out her foul curse she vanished, and was seen no more.
But is it true? Did they bring each other nothing but pain and sorrow? Was it terrible? No.
At first it was wonderful.
The king, who had rarely smiled, now laughed.
Age dropped from him and Theseus walked the fortress of the Acropolis with the proud steps of a prince.
No, no.
At first it was wonderful.
There's a "but" coming up.
But there was already a curse on Athens and the time had come for 14 more of her sons and daughters to set sail for Crete dressed in the white robes of sacrifice.
Stop! -Take off the robe.
-Theseus! Take off the robe! Every seven years, Father.
Stretching into the future.
Our sons and our sons' sons.
Our wives' daughters, and their daughters, too.
Not any more.
Son, don't! I beg you.
What is this Minotaur of theirs? Who has seen it? I have! In my dreams I have seen it.
It waits for me, and, I, Theseus, son of Aegeus who slew Procrustes, and Sciron the kicker and Sinis the pine bender, I will fix the monster and rid Athens of its fear.
Raise your heads, sons and daughters of Athens.
Lift up your hearts.
We will return with the head of the beast on our prow.
Don't return under a black sail.
If you come back safe, hoist a white sail.
Son, do you hear me? I shall be watching every day from the cliffs.
The white sail, father.
Have no fear.
I will return, I promise.
A white sail! I promise! And with his promise catching on the wind Theseus set sail for Crete.
But at that very moment in the heart of the labyrinth the Minotaur awoke from a dream in the dark and howled.
It's all right.
It's a dream.
I'll tell you about the world outside.
About the light about the colour of the sky.
They say the sky is blue, but it's not.
It can be a thousand colours.
Pinks, grays the colour of gold, the colour of wine.
And there are people.
I am somebody's daughter.
I'm the daughter of a king.
I am a sister.
You are a son.
You are a brother.
As Ariadne came from the labyrinth ran from the monster left with its secrets Theseus, son of Aegeus, sailed into Crete.
And as the children of Athens came before her Theseus, the hero, stood defiant.
And as he saw her, as she saw him the threads of their lives crossed tangled, knotted them together.
Kneel, Athenian.
Who am I kneeling to? Ariadne, daughter of King Minos.
If I said, "Athenian, I implore you, I beg you "kneel before me.
" Would you do that? How could I refuse? Forehead on the ground as the Egyptians kneel to their kings and queens.
Who are you? Theseus, son of Aegeus.
The king's son? And you go to the Minotaur as sacrifice or did you think you would kill it? -l think I was a fool.
-l think so, too.
When I gave you a civil answer.
Take him away! So die all enemies of my father.
As the guards lifted him up he felt her press something into his hand.
It was a key.
She gave him a key? My goodness, this is getting exciting.
Theseus was locked with the others in the deepest, darkest dungeon of the palace.
Those that slept, shook with their nightmares.
Those who couldn't sleep were fixed on their fate.
Death playing over in their minds.
How they would die? What they would feel? Whether the pain would be quick or slow? Or, Zeus, help me.
Athene, help me! At the far end of the palace, you will come to a great door marked with gold.
Go through it and enter the labyrinth.
Pay out this ball of twine behind you as you go, to guide you on your return.
Go forwards and always down.
And in the very heart of the maze you'll find the beast.
Why do you do this for me? Because the curse on Athens is also the curse on Crete.
Because of the way you look at me.
How do I look at you? Like this.
And like this.
Why do you want the Minotaur dead? It shames my family.
It shames me.
What life does it have in the dark? It's loveless.
Don't ask more.
Go and kill the beast.
Promise me one thing.
Promise me if you return you'll take me with you.
I promise.
And so Theseus the hero opened the great door to the labyrinth.
He knew immediately the beast could sense him.
That like a brooding black spider it could sense the slightest movement in its massive, intricate web.
Theseus froze.
Could hear his own heartbeat.
Or was it the beast's? What happened? No, don't tell me.
No, tell me.
This is terrible.
Theseus crept round the next corner, and the next always forwards, always down paying out the thread, until.
The power of a bull, the guile of a man.
It knew every inch of its domain.
Wherever Theseus went, it knew another way.
Suddenly appearing, smashing through passages maddened, wild, famished.
It lay there on the floor, bleeding to death.
And Theseus stood above it with his sword.
And as he watched its huge jaws moved.
And it seemed to him as if the sounds coming from them were almost human.
"Mother, " it seemed to say.
"Mother, father "brother, sister.
" No! Don't! Don't kill him.
He's my brother.
He's my brother.
Move! Move away! Theseus, son of Aegeus.
He killed it? He killed it.
-Oh, what? Was it really her brother? It really was.
That's sad.
That's why Ariadne always came here, isn't it? Because she was his sister.
That's right.
Did Theseus have to kill him? Couldn't he have been tamed? Theseus saw only the beast.
Saw only the moment when he could hold the horns aloft on the quay at Athens.
His father's face, the pride, the hero's welcome.
All his life had been for that moment.
The birth, the rock, the sword, the labours, all for that moment when he struck off the head of the Minotaur.
Within an hour, he was pulling out of the harbour firing the Cretan ships, heading out towards the open sea the beast's head wrapped in sailcloth.
Did she go with him? She did go with him.
She loved him.
From the first moment she'd seen him, she loved him.
But already she saw his heart was growing cold and famous.
And she was forced to look on the bloodied sail which covered her brother's head.
And the burning of her father's might fleet.
And regret chilled her as she stood and watched Crete recede and fade on the horizon knowing she could never go back.
The next night, the put in at Naxos certain of their safety danced the dance of the crane.
The 14 Athenians danced the ritual steps of victor feasted late into the night.
The fires, the wine the triumph flushing their faces.
And Ariadne watched, pale as sin watched and waited for her new lord to join her.
Waited for him to lie with her.
And when the fire had died to its embers when the wineskins were dry when his feet could no longer carry him Theseus came to her.
And all night, he promised her anything.
The promise of a man to a woman.
The promise his father had made to his mother.
And broken.
So he married her? When Ariadne woke, the bed was empty.
The sun beat down on the white sand.
She looked for Theseus, but he was gone.
She ran to the shore, running through the ashes of the feast running in the footprints of the dance, into the water as the ship with the black sail carried Theseus to Athens.
Theseus! Son of Aegeus! Breaker of promises! Betrayer! But already Theseus' thoughts were elsewhere puzzling on the beast's head he kept in the sailcloth.
Now folding, now unfolding.
Amazed that with each day, its features seemed to him more human.
More gentle.
That was his sail.
That was the white sail he promised he would hoist on his return.
I know.
Not wrap the head in it.
He promised his father.
Aegeus had grown old scanning the distance.
He had grown old waiting.
But then, one day standing at the edge of the cliffs he saw a sail approaching.
He held his breath.
From the altars of my family you lured me.
My brother's blood on my hands, faithless one.
His eyes were weak, the sun so blinding.
At first he could not tell if it were white or black.
You carry the beast's poor head with you! But also my heart! My heart! My wretched heart! Abandoned on this shore.
No way back none forward.
I curse you! I curse you! I curse you! His heart broken he leapt out into the dazzling light of the day into the sea which every after bears his name.
I curse your birth! I curse the love I bore for you! You gods who watch all things, hear my cries! Mark my tears! Let the sky fall on him, the sea swallow him the earth drown him! He abandoned me! Theseus, son of Aegeus bull-slayer King of Athens.
Many nights he would dream of wandering through the winding corridors of his palace looking as he had done once before for a monster to kill.
But in the dream, it was always his mother or his father, or his wife he killed.
And when he caught his own reflection, he had the monster's face.