Beware the dreadful Minotaur 
 That dwells within the Maze. 
 The monster feasts on human gore 
 And bones of those he slays. 
 Then softly through the labyrinth creep 
 And rouse him not to strife. 
 Take one short peep, prepare to leap 
 And run to save your life! 

Have fun exploring!

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For more details about the plot, or if you are too lazy to read the summary, you can watch this video.

Theseus and the Minotaur

King Minos of Crete ordered his fleet to set sail for Athens because his son had been assassinated while competing in the Pan-Athenian games. The city surrendered and Minos demanded as retribution that, at nine-year intervals, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sent to Crete as a sacrifice to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in a Labyrinth.

On the third occasion, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster to stop this horror. On his arrival in Crete, Ariadne, King Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and gave him a ball of thread, so he could find his way out of the labyrinth. As soon as Theseus entered the Labyrinth, he tied one end of the ball of string to the door post. Theseus came to the heart of the Labyrinth and also upon the sleeping Monster. He overpowered the Minotaur and stabbed the beast in the throat with his sword.

After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to flee with Ariadne.

Whats the Difference?

Although the words "maze" and "labyrinth" are often used as synonyms there is a difference. A maze consists of branching paths, with often more than one entry and exit point. A labyrinth on the other hand only has a single, non-branching path, that always leads to the center. While a maze might be difficult to traverse, a Labyrinth may be long but never difficult.

Labyrinths, as a symbol for the long path to reach God, often have a spiritual meaning. Mazes are generally used as entertainment or in scientific experiements.

Traversing the Maze


                        

Theseus used Ariadne's thread to trace back his own steps, but what if one finds himself in a maze without such help?

One option is the wall follower, the best-known rule for traversing mazes, also known as either the left-hand rule or the right-hand rule. If the maze is simply connected, that is, all its walls are connected together or to the maze's outer boundary, then by keeping one hand in contact with one wall of the maze the explorer is guaranteed not to get lost and will reach a different exit if there is one...

In fact, Akalabeth, one of the first commercially released role-playing video games ever had the player running through an underground maze. Designed by Richard Garriott, Akalabeth was the predecessor of the famous Ultima series.

The Maze and the Media

Many myths surround the maze but more recently mazes have been a popular subject for books, movies and even more modern media like computergames.

Here are a few movie examples. Some of them are based on novels which consequently also feature mazes.

  • Sleuth (1972)
  • The Shining (1980)
  • Cube (1997)
  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)
  • Pan's Labyrinth (2006)
  • Inception (2010)
  • Maze Runner (2014)

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