Then Ariadne loved him yet more, and said, “Fair youth, you are too bold, but I can help you, weak as I am. I will give you a sword, and with that perhaps you may slay the monster, and a clue of thread, and by that perhaps you may find your way out again. Only promise me that if you escape you will take me home with you.”
Then Theseus laughed and said, “Am I not safe enough now?” And he hid his sword, and rolled up the clue in his hand, and then he fell down before Ariadne and kissed her hands and her feet, while she wept over him a long while. Then the Princess went away, and Theseus lay down and slept sweetly.
When evening came the guards led him away to the labyrinth. And he went down into that doleful gulf, and he turned on the left hand and on the right hand, and went up and down till his head was dizzy, but all the while he held the clue. For when he went in he fastened it to a stone and left it to unroll out of his hand as he went on, and it lasted till he met the Minotaur in a narrow chasm between black cliffs.
And when he saw the Minotaur, he stopped a while, for he had never seen so strange a monster. His body was a man’s, but his head was the head of a bull, and his teeth were the teeth of a lion. When he saw Theseus, he roared and put his head down and rushed right at him.
But Theseus stepped aside nimbly, and as the monster passed by, cut him in the knee, and ere he could turn in the narrow path, he followed him, and stabbed him again and again from behind, till the monster fled, bellowing wildly.
Theseus followed him, holding the clue of thread in his left hand, and at last he came up with him, where he lay panting, and caught him by the horns, and forced his head back, and drove the keen sword through his throat.
Then Theseus turned and went back, limping and weary, feeling his way by the clue of thread, till he came to the mouth of that doleful place, and saw waiting for him—whom but Ariadne?
And he whispered, “It is done,” and showed her the sword. Then she laid her finger on her lips, and led him to the prison and opened the doors, and set all the prisoners free, while the guards lay sleeping heavily, for Ariadne had drugged them with wine.
So they fled to their ship together, and leapt on board and hoisted up the sail, and the night lay dark around them, so that they escaped all safe, and Ariadne became the wife of Theseus.
But that fair Ariadne never came to Athens with her husband. Some say that, as she lay sleeping on the shore, one of the gods found her and took her up into the sky, and some say that the gods drove away Theseus, and took Ariadne from him by force. But, however that may be, in his haste or his grief, Theseus forgot to put up the white sail.
Now AEgeus his father sat on the cliffs and watched day after day, and strained his old eyes across the waters to see the ship afar. And when he saw the black sail he gave up Theseus for dead, and in his grief he fell into the sea and was drowned, and it is called the AEgean Sea to this day.