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<   No. 703   2004-12-29   >

Comic #703

1 Ginny: {outside an open doorway, carrying a spool of thread} Aha. I thought so. A labyrinth, just like at Knossos.
2 Haken: Won't we get lost inside?
2 Ginny: That's what this spool of thread is to prevent.
3 Erwin: A spool of thread to stop us getting lost in a maze?
4 Erwin: That's ariadniculous idea!
4 Ginny: It's the theseust way...
4 Haken: Ach!

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Continuing our story from #673:

King Minos had a son, Androgeus, which proves that even though Minos might have known a thing or two about ruling a kingdom, he didn't have a clue about giving his kid a cool name. Still, he was pretty buff, and competed at the Panathenaic Games in Athens, which were a sort of local version of the Olympic Games, since those sporty Athenians just couldn't get enough of them. Anyway, Androgeus won every event he entered, so naturally the Athenians accused him of using steroids. Androgeus took exception to this and took a swing at Aegeus, who was the King of Athens. Bad move. Aegeus had Androgeus killed.

When Minos found out about this, he was indifferent, until he remembered his son still owed him a beer. So he waged terrible war on Athens and conquered the city. He told the Athenians they would have to send him a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens every year*, to be fed to the Minotaur. After the first few groups didn't return from what they thought would be a fun cruise away from their parents with lots of teenage debauchery and wine-drinking, a young chap named Theseus decided to put a stop to things by volunteering to kill the Minotaur. Theseus was the bastard son of King Aegeus by the princess Aethra (or possibly the son of Aethra and the sea god Poseidon**, who got her pregnant when she went for an innocent swim in the ocean - they never tell you these things in physical education class at high school...).

Anyway, when Theseus arrived at Crete, King Minos' daughter Ariadne fell in love with him. Not wanting her true love to be eaten by her half-bull half-brother, she gave Theseus a magic sword and a spool of thread. He unwound the thread behind him when he entered the Labyrinth, so he could find his way out again, and despatched the Minotaur forthwith. Yay!

But just in case you thought this story had a happy ending, after Theseus and Ariadne fled Crete together, the goddess Athena stuck her big nose into their affairs and separated them, ensuring they both lived tragic and unhappy lives, as befits any good Greek legend.

* Some traditional accounts say the tribute was sent every nine years. Some say annually. This sort of thing happens a lot in mythology.

** See what I mean?

Originally I wrote Dr Smith's last line as "Was that a pun?" with the idea that I could develop her as someone who really hates puns, which would be good for a few laughs later on. I reconsidered because:

  1. She's already used a pun herself, in #673.
  2. My favourite webcomic Casey & Andy has a character who really hates puns - Mary - and it would feel a bit like stepping on someone else's jokes.
  3. I came up with a riposte to Erwin's initial pun that was just too cool not to use.

2014-01-27 Rerun commentary: Some informative links which I neglected to include originally:

See, I don't just make all this stuff up!

Ariadne's, mother, by the way, was the King's wife Pasiphaë, who we met earlier in this tale... as the mother of the Minotaur. So Ariadne actually helped Theseus to kill her own half-brother. (The other half was a monstrous bull creature, so perhaps this bit of sibling rivalry might be excused.)

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