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EXTERIOR A MEADOW NEAR TROEZEN - DAY
About 3,400 years ago
there lived a man
who changed western civilization.
His name was
So begins the titles and credits as we see young THESEUS, who is about 18 years old, wrestling with his tutor, CONNIDAS. They wear only loin cloths. Occasionally Connidas tries to grab the hair on the front of Theseus's head, but it has been cut short.
What happened to the hair I used to grab?
I cut it off, so you can't do that anymore.
Eventually after several throws, Theseus pins Connidas down on his back.
You've got me, Theseus; I have to give up.
Theseus lets Connidas up, and they walk along together toward Troezen.
You are too strong for me now and too agile.
When the pupil surpasses his tutor,
what more can I teach you?
Although I admire my cousin Heracles
more than anyone,
I like this new way of fighting.
Why do you like it?
For several reasons.
It is less brutal and takes more skill,
and I can win without hurting my opponent.
Such thoughts will please
your grandfather, Pittheus.
We must have a talk with him
and your mother, Aethra.
INTERIOR PALACE OF PITTHEUS IN TROEZEN - DAY
The palace is simple but elegant, furnished with chairs of carved wood and stone benches. A large statue of Poseidon is on a pedestal. PITTHEUS and AETHRA are dressed in aristocratic robes. They and Theseus and Connidas are sitting in a small circle.
You wanted me to tell you when, in my opinion,
Theseus has grown up to become a man.
I think today is that day,
for I can no longer defeat him in fighting.
He is clearly stronger than I am now,
and he is inventing new tricks faster
than I can teach him my old ones.
Is this so, Theseus?
Are you ready to face the world as a man?
Modesty prevents me
from making claims about myself,
but I do believe I am prepared for any adventure
the gods can throw my way.
Be careful, young man;
the gods can hear you.
Don't forget that pride can destroy you
faster than one of Poseidon's earthquakes.
He gestures toward the statue of Poseidon.
Are you sure, son?
This is not like the time
when Heracles threw his lion-skin over that bench
and all the other boys ran away in fright,
but you went out to get an ax from the woodpile.
I know I was just a silly boy then.
But you promised that
when I was grown to manhood
you would tell me what happened to my father.
I know that Poseidon is my spiritual father,
but I want to know about my earthly father.
Perhaps it is time.
Will you tell him or shall I?
You tell him, noble Pittheus.
Your father is the noble Aegeus.
Aegeus, the King of Athens!?
Even he. Your father, being childless,
brought the worship of Aphrodite to Athens
and consulted the oracle of Apollo at Delphi.
What did the Pythian priestess say to him?
That he should not loosen the wine-skin foot
until he had returned to Athens.
But on his way home
he met Medea at Corinth,
and she promised to use her magic
to gain him a son,
if he would agree to give her refuge in Athens.
But the terrible Medea is not my mother, is she?
Of course not, dear Theseus; I am your mother.
From Corinth Aegeus came here to visit me
and the shrine to Apollo I established here.
Now at that time
I was engaged to marry Bellerophon,
but he had been sent to Caria in disgrace.
So when I heard that Aegeus wanted a son
and that he was under the influence of Medea's magic,
I gave him wine
and the companionship of my daughter.
On the same night Athena
appeared to me in a dream
and told me to wade over to the island of Sphaeria
where I dreamed that Poseidon made love to me also.
So when Aegeus went back to Athens,
we told the people that Poseidon is your father.
But why didn't Aegeus marry you
and take us to Athens?
He feared the fifty priestesses
and the sons of Pallas
who claim the hereditary right to rule in Athens
and say Aegeus was only
the adopted son of Pandion.
We must go now to the rock.
Yes, you are right. The day has finally come.
EXT. A LARGE ROCK ON A PLAIN NEAR TROEZEN - DAY
Aethra, Pittheus, and Connidas stand by as Theseus pushes on the rock, slowly lifting it up to reveal in a hollowed out space a pair of sandals and a sword.
The sword and sandals were put there by Aegeus
with instructions that when you can move the rock,
you are to take those tokens of your father
and proceed to Athens in all secrecy.
I can give you a ship to sail to Athens,
for that is the easiest way to travel,
since so many robbers
and murderers are on the roads
now that Heracles is in Asia,
a slave to the Lydian Queen Omphale,
as punishment for the murder of his guest Iphitus.
But now Lydia is enjoying peace and security.
I aim to be like Heracles myself.
Why should I fear to travel by land
and face a few solitary criminals?
Let me give you some idea
of what I'm talking about.
At Epidaurus is Periphetes with a bronze club,
and if you get past him, at the isthmus
you'll likely meet Sinis, the bender of pines
who sets men flying when the pine is released,
or sometimes he uses two pines
to tear a man in half.
Then on the rocks of Megara is Sciron,
who has a habit of kicking people off the cliff.
Or maybe you'd like to fight with Cercyon
who crushes people to death in his embrace.
Then there is Procrustes who offers hospitality.
If you're too tall for his bed,
he cuts off your feet;
and if the bed is too long, he stretches you out.
Do you still want to go by land?
Yes, now more than ever.
This is my chance to gain a reputation like Heracles.
I would consider it dishonorable to run away
from adventures which my cousin Heracles seeks out.
This land needs to be cleared of these evil men,
and should I disgrace my father's noble name
by fleeing in the cowardly way by sea?
No, I must prove the greatness of my birth
by showing I am worthy of the sword and sandals.
Are you looking for trouble?
No, but I am not afraid to meet it.
I will not hurt anyone unless they try to hurt me.
If I am truly a man as of today,
I must decide for myself which way I am to go.
So be it.
And may the gods protect you, my son.
Now I must also tell you that your father Poseidon
will grant you three wishes during your life;
so be very careful what you pray for,
since the god of the sea is very powerful.
Thank you, mother;
I will not forget you.
Theseus hugs Aethra.
EXT. ROAD NEAR EPIDAURUS - DAY
Theseus is walking along the road wearing his new sandals and sword. As he turns a corner around the side of a mountain, he finds PERIPHETES sitting beside the road with a large club that is plated with brass. Periphetes stands up and walks to the center of the road facing Theseus.
Stop right there, young man.
Where do you think you're going?
I am on my way to the city of Athens.
Don't you know that
it's dangerous to travel alone?
I think I can take care of myself.
Oh you can, can you?
My club might have something to say about that.
Of course you could always use that noble sword.
I only want to pass you by, not fight with you.
Then if you'll just hand over the sword,
I'll be glad to let you go on your way to Athens.
I must tell you that
I'm opposed to highway robbery.
But to show you I'm not afraid of you,
I'll fight you and your club without the sword
if you will not let me pass peacefully.
Just try to get by me.
Theseus walks forward, and Periphetes raise his club as though to strike him. Theseus tosses his sword aside, which distracts Periphetes momentarily allowing Theseus to move in and gain a wrestling hold on him. Then Theseus throws him to the ground, and Periphetes lets go of the club. Theseus picks up the club.
Now will you let me pass?
No one has taken my club before.
Now I will kill you.
I didn't want to harm you,
but you leave me no choice
but to treat you as you have treated others.
Yet I disdain to kill you
in such an unfair fight.
Therefore pick up the sword
and defend yourself.
Periphetes grabs the sword and runs at Theseus. Theseus dodges the sword and delivers a crushing blow to Periphetes's head with the club, killing him instantly. Theseus checks to see that he is dead, looks at the club, picks up the sword, and continues on his way with both.
EXT. ROAD NEAR THE ISTHMUS - DAY
Here the sea can be seen on both sides of the road, but at the edge of a stand of pine trees stands SINIS. As Theseus approaches, Sinis calls to him.
No one crosses this isthmus
without my permission.
Then I would humbly ask you
for that permission.
Come over here, and help me bend this tree.
That's some club you have there.
I took it from a fool who abused people with it.
That looks like brass.
Yes, I would say it is brass.
Now as I pull this branch down,
you put your body over the main part to hold it.
Theseus reaches over, but at the last minute pushes Sinis into the position he was trying to maneuver Theseus to take.
Do you take me for a fool too?
Theseus releases the bent pine, and Sinis goes flying several feet into the air. When Sinis lands, he injures his leg.
What did you do that for?
Ask yourself that question.
I only did to you what you've done to others.
Because of your overweening arrogance
I will tear you into two parts.
Sinis attacks Theseus, but he is wrestled to the ground and knocked unconscious by Theseus. Theseus ties one of the ankles of Sinis to the top of a pine tree. Then he pulls down the other tree and ties the rope on that one, apparently used by Sinis before, to his other ankle. Then he lets go of both trees. A woman's scream is heard, and a beautiful young woman, PERIGUNE, starts to run away through the bushes. Theseus sees her and follows her into the brush. As she enters an asparagus patch, she utters a prayer.
O sacred asparagus, protect me now,
and I will never cut you down or burn you.
Fair maiden, you need have no fear of me.
I will not hurt you in any way.
That was my father you just killed,
although I suppose he deserved it.
Theseus slowly moves closer and joins her in the midst of the asparagus.
You're so beautiful that I wish I'd let him live.
Then you will not force yourself on me.
No, I would never do that.
I was taught by my grandfather, Pittheus,
to respect the freedom of every person.
What is your name?
Perigune. Do you like me?
I have never seen anyone so beautiful before.
You do seem quite young.
Have you ever been with a woman?
No, so far my life has been quite chaste.
Do you know the difference
between a boy and a man?
I am learning as quickly as I can.
I can see that you are no longer a girl
but certainly have become a woman.
They say that asparagus is like a man.
Do you see how the edible part
springs from the earth?
When a man is excited by a woman,
he springs forth also.
As she is saying this, Perigune removes her dress, which is all that she is wearing.
Yes, I see what you mean.
I am springing forth now myself.
Theseus embraces Perigune, and they begin to make love in the asparagus patch.
Theseus is standing up to go.
I must be on my way, dear Perigune.
So soon. What's your hurry?
I am on my way to Athens;
I am ridding this area of menacing criminals
I happen to meet on the roadway.
You certainly must defend yourself against them.
People may think I only fight them from necessity.
I should go out of my way to do a heroic deed.
Do you know of any danger or problem
I could alleviate around here?
There is a savage boar who terrorizes Crommyon.
She is called the Crommyonian sow.
Theseus kneels down and kisses Perigune.
Thank you, Perigune;
that is a noble challenge.
If you a bear a child, I will help you;
and don't forget to honor always the asparagus.
He kisses her again and then departs.
EXT. THE WOODS OF CROMMYON - DAY
A ferocious boar attacks a family's dwelling, injuring a LITTLE GIRL and killing a lamb. Theseus approaching sees this and chases the boar into the woods. Finally cornering it, the boar attacks him. After a difficult fight Theseus kills it with his brass club.
EXT. A CLIFF ABOVE THE SEA NEAR MEGARA - DAY
SCIRON sitting on the edge of a precipice calls to Theseus who is approaching.
Young man, come here and wash my feet.
Theseus sits on a small stool on the edge of the cliff, and taking the bowl of water begins to wash Sciron's feet with a cloth. However, he is on his guard and keeps his weight on the balls of his feet, rather than on the stool. When Sciron tries to kick him over the cliff, Theseus shifts his weight aside so that the kick misses; and with a little push from Theseus, Sciron tumbles over the cliff.
EXT. THE ROAD NEAR ELEUSIS - DAY
As people watch, Theseus takes on the barrel-chested CERCYON in a wrestling match. The fight is quite even, and at one point it looks as though Cercyon might crush Theseus in his arms, but he slips out and throws Cercyon to the ground with such force that he loses consciousness.
Now he won't bully the people of Eleusis anymore.
INT. A PRIMITIVE CABIN - NIGHT
PROCRUSTES shows Theseus a room that has two beds, one rather short and the other rather long.
I give you your choice of beds for the night.
Not wanting to give up my feet,
I think I'll take the long one.
But I don't think you're tall enough, Theseus.
Don't you think a person should fit the bed?
No, actually I have a different idea.
I think the bed should be made to fit the person.
Tell me, Procrustes, why do you injure
the people who come to stay with you?
Don't you respect the Greek custom
of offering hospitality to strangers?
That is just the problem for me.
Travelers are always stopping here
expecting me to give them food and lodging.
So instead of my having to take pains for them,
I have gained a reputation for giving pain.
This has reduced
the number of people stopping here.
I'm not surprised,
but don't you ever get lonely?
Look, just lay down on the bed,
and I'll stretch you out to fit it.
Theseus puts down his sword and club, laying down on the long bed. As Procrustes tries to clamp a board over his ankles, Theseus begins to wrestle with him. Soon Procrustes has his ankles clamped, and Theseus is pulling on his shoulders.
Now is this any way to treat strangers?
No. Please stop. I won't do it anymore.
You have killed many and deserve no less.
But to see if you will keep your promise,
I will just disable your right arm.
Theseus pulls the right shoulder of Procrustes out of its socket.
Augh! Have mercy on me, Theseus.
You have mercy on those who come here.
If I hear of your killing anyone else,
I will come back and kill you myself.
EXT. RIVERSIDE WITH AN ALTAR TO ZEUS - DAY
Theseus is bathing in the river as the THREE SONS OF PHYTALUS watch. A PRIEST OF ZEUS is praying at the altar.
I need this purification before entering Athens,
for I have encountered evil men on the road
and have had to commit several acts of violence.
O majestic Zeus, king of the gods,
hear my prayer
and wash me clean of that foulness.
Theseus emerges from the river and prays before the altar.
PRIEST OF ZEUS
May the gods forgive you,
Theseus, for those deeds,
especially for the killing of Sinis,
who was related to your grandfather Pittheus.
I didn't know it at the time.
PRIEST OF ZEUS
Sins may be committed in ignorance;
we still must be purged of them all.
I am penitent and ask the gods for release.
As Theseus stands up and walks away from the altar, the Phytalids present him with a robe to wear.
FIRST SON OF PHYTALUS
Come, noble Theseus, and dine with us.
There still are Greeks who offer hospitality.
EXT. THE DOLPHIN TEMPLE OF APOLLO IN ATHENS - DAY
Theseus, wearing the long robe and having his hair nicely plaited
in back, walks toward the temple. Several MASONS are working on finishing the roof. One of them calls to Theseus in derision.
why do you come here unescorted?
The masons laugh at him. Theseus walks over to the oxen yoked to their cart, grabs the horns of one of them and wrestles it to the ground.
Let this be a sign to you of my promise
to bring the wild bull of Marathon
here for sacrifice.
The masons look at each other, but can say nothing. Theseus enters the temple.
INT. DELPHINIUM TEMPLE IN ATHENS - DAY
Theseus walks in and notices that there are several statues of goddesses. A boy, MEDUS, is playing in the portico. Theseus speaks to him.
Boy, is it true,
King Aegeus lives in this temple?
Yes, he is my father.
Please tell him that I would like to see him.
Medus runs inside the temple. Theseus examines some of the statues until the Queen MEDEA comes into this entry area.
Who is it that wishes to speak to the king?
You must be Medea, the queen.
My name is Theseus,
and I have come from Troezen.
Ah yes, I have heard of your heroic deeds.
Why do you want to see Aegeus?
It is personal; I have a surprise for him.
Come back in an hour,
and you may dine with us.
Theseus goes out, and we follow Medea into one of the inner rooms where she locates AEGEUS.
Noble Aegeus, a very great danger threatens us.
My dear queen, what could be so urgent?
A young man has arrived in Athens
who intends to overthrow our rule.
How do you know this?
Do you remember my telling you
about all the omens
I have seen indicating this danger?
The warnings of the goddesses?
Yes. This man has already killed several people.
He wants to be some kind of a Heracles.
I feel great foreboding of imminent disaster
if we do not act swiftly and strongly.
What are you suggesting?
I have invited him to our banquet today.
Let me add a poisonous herb to his wine.
My dear Medea, you are so suspicious.
Medea supplicates Aegeus on her knees.
Please, I beg you, dear husband.
You must be guided by me on this.
Have I not produced a son for you?
Ah yes, I cannot deny it.
But there are so many factions in our city.
That is why we must be on our guard
and take no chances, or we are doomed.
You seem to know more than I.
Pray some more about this
and then do what you think is best.
INT. BANQUET ROOM IN THE DELPHINIUM TEMPLE - AFTERNOON
A lavish banquet has been set for about twenty people. At one end of the table sits Medea and her PRIESTESSES, at the other is Aegeus and his ADVISORS. In the middle is Medus and Theseus. As the wine is served from another table, Medea goes over there and takes a special goblet to Theseus.
And we give the largest cup of wine
to our honored hero, the new Heracles.
Is this wine mixed with water?
Of course, but I've added a little spice.
TWO SERVANTS carry in a spit of roast beef on a large platter, placing it on the serving table.
As a token of my promise
to capture the Marathon bull,
please allow me to carve the roast.
Theseus pulls out his sword and walks to the serving table. Medea follows him with his cup.
Please drink a toast to that feat first.
Aegeus notices something about the sword and gets up and walks over to look at it more closely, just as Theseus is about to drink.
Just a moment.
Let me see that sword.
Look, here are the Erechtheid serpents on the hilt.
Where did you get this sword?
Now I am found out, King Aegeus.
For many years it was hidden
under a rock in Troezen.
I only uncovered it
and these sandals a few days ago.
And who is your mother?
The noble Aethra, daughter of Pittheus.
Then you are my son!
Aegeus suddenly knocks down the cup Theseus has been holding up, spilling the wine on the floor.
Yes, father, I am Theseus.
We are ruined!
Medea shrieks and with her son runs quickly out of the room.
People of Athens,
know that this is my son Theseus,
and I now declare that
he is my heir and crown prince.
All of the men cheer and pound the table, but the priestesses silently retreat.
Thank you, father; I shall do my best.
Now we truly have something to celebrate.
Why did you spill my wine?
It was poisoned by the suspicious Medea.
Then she almost killed me.
I must go after her.
Leave her, my son.
Bring another cup for the noble Theseus.
INT. AEGEUS' ROOM IN THE DELPHINIUM TEMPLE - AFTERNOON
Medea is talking with Aegeus.
So far I have eluded Theseus
by casting a magic cloud around myself,
but I still fear his vengeance.
Please give me some guards for protection.
We cannot live here this way.
You must go into exile again,
and I will provide guards to escort you.
Then I will take my son, Medus,
and I prophesy that some day his descendants
will return and challenge the power of Athens.
I cannot help that.
Go quickly, before he finds you.
Medea looks hard at Aegeus and then goes out.
INT. DELPHINIUM TEMPLE - DAY
Theseus receives LEOS.
The priestesses of Pallas Athena are very upset.
They say you will not respect the Goddess
but change the religious practices of the city.
The completion of this temple of the Dolphin
will soon be dedicated to Poseidon,
whom you claim is your spiritual father.
Yes, I realize that things are changing,
but the rule of kings is not new;
no longer are they sacrificed to the Earth Mother.
Is that all you have come to tell me?
I have heard that Pallas and his sons
are marching against us from Sphettus.
Do you know anything more about this?
Yes, Theseus; they divided their forces in half,
and I have come to warn you of an ambush
by the Pallantids in the village of Gargettus.
You have done well and will be rewarded.
We shall attack them at Gargettus.
EXT. VILLAGE OF GARGETTUS - DAY
Theseus and his WARRIORS attack the PALLANTIDS and eventually defeat them.
INT. AEGEUS'S ROOM IN THE DELPHINIUM TEMPLE - DAY
Theseus reports to Aegeus.
Father, the rebellion against is over.
After we defeated the Pallantids at Gargettus,
those with their father dispersed and fled.
That is great news, my son.
Now our kingdom will be safe.
I have heard that a wild bull of Marathon
has killed many people in the four cities there.
I promised to sacrifice this beast to Poseidon.
Ah, such is the energy of youth.
May Poseidon watch over you, my son.
EXT. HILLS OF MARATHON - MORNING
The old spinster HECALE bids Theseus farewell as he leaves her cottage.
Good luck to you, my dear little Theseus.
I have vowed to sacrifice a ram to Zeus
if you can get rid of that terrible bull.
Have no fear, dear Hecale,
and thank you again.
Look, that must be the bull, isn't it?
Yes, that is him. I must go in.
She runs into her cottage, as Theseus takes off after the bull. In a montage of scenes we see Theseus trying to tame the bull by taking its horns. He is thrown many times, but eventually he is able to tame the beast and lead it by a rope back to Athens.
INT. AEGEUS' ROOM IN THE DELPHINIUM TEMPLE - DAY
Aegeus and Theseus relax and talk.
You have done well to bring the bull of Marathon
to be sacrificed here to the goddess Athena.
I understand that bull was brought from Crete
to the plain of Argos by the great Heracles
and that it killed hundreds of people.
Yes, and one of those killed was Androgeos,
the son of Minos, the great King of Knossos.
So Minos attacked us with his powerful ships,
but not only that, our land was devastated
by drought, famine, and plague.
Did you propitiate the gods and goddesses?
Yes, the oracle told us to appease King Minos.
So we agreed to send to him every ninth year,
that is every ninety-ninth month, a tribute
of seven virgins and seven youths selected by lot.
For what purpose go they to the island of Crete?
Are they hostages?
We've heard they're taken into a great labyrinth
and sacrificed to the Minotaur, a monstrous bull,
but we really don't know any more than that.
Now the tribute is due for the third time.
All those living in our city
between the ages of fourteen and twenty-two
must come to the law-court for the lottery tomorrow,
but I have excluded you, my son, from this.
No, father, that is not fair.
Already I am resented in this city as an outsider
and the son of a woman whom you never married.
If I am to rule well here after you are gone,
I must be respected by all the people.
I will volunteer to be one of the youths,
and let the others be chosen by lottery.
But if you do this, I may never see you again.
Don't you see, I must, father.
Perhaps I can negotiate with King Minos
a better treaty than this desperate tribute.
Let me also substitute two other volunteers
whom I'll instruct to take warm baths, avoid sunshine,
and perfume their bodies and hair with unguent oils
so that they may be taken for virgin girls.
Don't worry, father, we'll find a way to escape,
and I shall then return to a city
that will no longer be dominated by a foreign power.
I shall pray that it be so.
EXT. HARBOR NEAR ATHENS - MORNING
Theseus and the FIVE VIRGINS and TWO EFFEMINATE YOUTHS wearing dresses, and the other SIX YOUTHS are boarding the ship with the black sail. Aegeus presents Theseus with a red sail.
Prince Theseus, I give you this red sail
so that when you return safely to us
the deathly black sail may be put away,
and when the ship arrives we may know
whether you are still alive or not.
Thank you, father.
Remember the oracle of Apollo has advised you
to take Aphrodite, the great Goddess of Love,
as your companion and guide on this venture.
We sacrificed a goat to Aphrodite yesterday,
and the priestess saw an extraordinary omen:
how the she-goat when dying became a male.
The ways of the gods
are beyond our comprehension.
Yes, and the ways of the goddesses too.
Theseus gets into the boat, and they cast off.
EXT. HARBOR NEAR KNOSSOS - DAY
KING MINOS arrives in a chariot to inspect the seven virgins and seven youths who are still in the boat on the shore surrounded by GUARDS.
Let's see what the Athenians
have sent us this time.
I am King Minos,
and I welcome you to Knossos.
He enters the boat and examines them, noticing that the two effeminate youths seem somehow different from the other virgins.
These two seem to have grown
but not developed into women
after Aphrodite's fashion.
Everyone cannot be equally beautiful.
Minos glances at Theseus but quickly turns his particular attention to PERIBOEA, the most beautiful of the virgins.
But here is one who is worthy of Aphrodite!
In our country women do not cover their breasts.
He pulls her dress off her shoulders and down to her waist.
Even though you may be king here,
I must protest this treatment of a fair virgin.
By what authority do you protest, young man?
It is my duty as Poseidon's son to protect virgins
from outrageous attacks by tyrants.
Is that so? It seems to me that Poseidon himself
never let respect for virginity stand in his way
when a fair maiden attracted his pleasure.
Besides, I am the son of Zeus, king of the gods,
and I am king here on the island of Crete.
Nonetheless I am Theseus, son of King Aegeus,
and I will not let you mistreat her.
How many fathers do you have?
Make up your mind.
Did Poseidon or Aegeus impregnate your mother?
Poseidon is my heavenly father,
Aegeus my earthly one.
Then prove yourself a son of Poseidon
by retrieving this ring from his watery realm.
Minos takes a golden signet ring off his finger and throws it into the sea.
O Poseidon, hear my prayer now.
Theseus then dives into the sea and swimming under water finds the ring. As he returns to the surface, some translucent seaweed is wrapped around his head, giving the appearance of a crown. He climbs back into the boat and shows the ring to Minos.
Poseidon seems to have crowned him as well.
At least you've proven to be a good diver.
You may keep the ring; it's a gift.
Take them to the labyrinth for their training.
Minos disembarks, and the guards begin to escort the fourteen as prisoners.
EXT. LABYRINTH PALACE - DAY
The Athenian prisoners are in awe of the large labyrinthine palace they are approaching as they pass by an arena Minos points to.
That is where you will perform for us,
if you live.
INT. LABYRINTH COURT - DAY
They pass through the large open court in the center of the palace.
We invite you to join our great year festivities,
which begin this evening. Take them below.
While Minos exits another way, the guards lead the prisoners down some stairs and through a complicated maze of hallways and stairs before they are deposited in windowless rooms, one for the females and one for the males. The GUARD CAPTAIN orders them.
You will stay in these rooms
until we come for you.
Anyone who leaves without permission
will be killed.
INT. LABYRINTH COURT - EVENING
Tables are arranged in a large U, with the seven youths on one side, the seven supposed virgins on the other, and Minos and his royal family in the center. With Minos is his wife PASIPHAE, his brother RHADAMANTHUS, and his daughters ARIADNE, who is about 20, and PHAEDRA, who is about 15. While they are banqueting, SEVEN CRETAN WOMEN are performing a folk dance. They, like Pasiphae, Ariadne and Phaedra, are wearing beautiful flounce dresses that are formed around the exposed breasts and include short sleeves. Theseus is at the end of the row nearest to Ariadne and Phaedra. Ariadne speaks to Theseus.
I understand my father gave you a ring today.
Theseus holds up his hand to show her the ring.
Yes, your father and my father, Poseidon.
Do you really think Poseidon is your father?
Do you think Zeus is your grandfather?
Everyone knows all the greatest gods and goddesses
were born here on the island of Crete.
They may have been born in your land,
but they don't necessarily stay here.
My name is Ariadne.
And I am Phaedra.
I am honored by both princesses then.
This is quite a dance.
I particularly admire the dresses.
We are proud of being women
and don't mind showing it.
Well, where would we be without women?
Our uncle Rhadamanthus has just visited the gods
in the cave where Zeus is said to have been born.
Rhadamanthus is the judge over all our people,
and he consults the gods once every great year;
but he told me all the great gods and goddesses
really come from the lost continent of Atlantis.
Atlantis was destroyed hundreds of generations ago.
Yes, but some of us still know its secrets.
The architect of this palace, for example,
Daedalus, who comes from your city of Athens,
is working on flying, as the Atlanteans did.
Flying? Like a bird?
With knowledge we can master this world.
Yes, but can we learn
to get along with each other?
It's a bull you're going to have to get along with.
I'm not afraid of a stupid bull.
It's people who are dangerous.
EXT. ARENA IN KNOSSOS - DAY
Theseus and the other thirteen Athenians are being trained to do acrobatics with the bull, such as grabbing the horns and doing a somersault on its back before leaping to be caught by another member of the team.
EXT. A TREE NEAR KNOSSOS - DAY
Phaedra is sitting on a swing seat, as Ariadne pushes her so that she swings back and forth.
You like Theseus, don't you, Ariadne?
He does seem to have
some extraordinary qualities.
Well, I certainly like him.
Phaedra, you are too young to think of marriage.
There is no one here who compares with him.
Certainly not the monstrous Asterion,
whom Taurus would like to marry to you or me.
Why should we marry a brother like the Egyptians?
He may be our mother's son,
but I don't think he came from our father's seed.
You are right about that, little sister.
Why do you think he looks so much like Taurus?
And why is he always kept hidden in the labyrinth?
You know that if we are not careful,
our mother may make one of us marry him.
Not me, I'd run off with an Athenian slave
before I'd marry that monster.
EXT. ARENA IN KNOSSOS - DAY
The Athenians are still practicing with the bull, when TAURUS enters the ring and comes up to them.
You Athenians are progressing well
in your training.
Tomorrow you will perform for us.
Following that, there will be contests,
and then you will be auctioned off as slaves.
Who are you?
and why do you make us slaves?
I am Taurus;
I am in charge of the bull sports.
You are sent to us as a punishment,
because Athenians were responsible
for the death of our prince Androgeus.
It is not just to punish an entire tribe
for the crimes of some individuals.
I'd like to speak to Rhadamanthus about this.
Oh, you would, would you?
Let's see how you perform tomorrow first.
INT. LABYRINTH HALLWAY - NIGHT
Ariadne carries a lamp through the hallway. Outside the door of the male Athenians' room she confronts three armed guards.
The King wants to speak to Theseus.
He is to come with me.
One guard goes into the room and comes out with Theseus.
Here he is.
Theseus, you will follow me.
Ariadne leads Theseus through the hallways up the stairs and finally into the throne room.
INT. THRONE ROOM - NIGHT
Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Pasiphae are seated. Ariadne sits on the side, as Theseus takes a seat in the center on a bench facing the throne.
please sit down.
We've heard you complained
about being sold here.
Has the food not been adequate or to your taste?
Your food is fine.
Are you not happy living here in our palace?
I could never be happy as a slave, King Minos.
I am sorry that your son was killed by the bull,
but that same bull has since been captured by me
and sacrificed to Athena, the goddess of our city.
So you think we should end this tribute you give us?
Yes, why can't we all live in mutual respect?
Are you empowered by your father, King Aegeus,
to negotiate a new treaty with us?
Yes, as crown prince, I certainly am.
We don't want a war any more than you do.
Would you be willing to agree not to arm ships
or sail any with a crew larger than five?
Are we to be defenseless against criminal pirates?
No, I have already been working on that problem.
I have commissioned Jason and his argonauts
to rid the seas of such dangerous lawbreakers.
Then with the exception of Jason's ship
are you willing to agree to the same conditions?
I will. We want to live in peace.
And what about my fellow Athenian prisoners?
It's already announced
they are to be sold as slaves.
Some rich people are eager to acquire them.
Is that your idea of justice?
It is the result of an agreed upon treaty.
But I thought we were negotiating a new treaty.
We are, but that is not included.
However, I will grant you your freedom,
if you survive in the arena tomorrow.
Theseus is thinking of protesting again, but he catches the eye of Ariadne, who seems to be saying by her expression that he should not push it anymore just then.
Then we have a new agreement.
I had a feeling you would be reasonable, Theseus.
May the gods be with you in the arena tomorrow.
Theseus and Ariadne get up and leave the room.
INT. LABYRINTH HALLWAY - NIGHT
Ariadne again leads Theseus with a lamp, but before returning to the guard room, they go into her room.
INT. ARIADNE'S ROOM - NIGHT
Ariadne places the lamp on a table and sits down with Theseus on her couch.
Please sit with me, Theseus;
I want to talk with you.
You did well in the negotiation.
I know you want your compatriots' freedom,
but you were wise not to insist upon it yet.
But how can I free them and escape from here?
I will help you.
Do you trust me?
As long as you are helping me, of course.
Tomorrow I will give you
a clue of thread to unwind
so that you can find your way out of the labyrinth
after you have freed the Athenian prisoners.
Are you willing to help me and my father?
This is a very dangerous time for us.
If it is right, certainly I will do all I can.
You know the trainer, Taurus, don't you?
Yes, and I don't like him.
Few do, but he has become very powerful,
first by winning all the contests
and then by becoming my mother's lover.
He is surely the father of her son Asterion,
and now I'm afraid they are plotting to kill Minos
and make Asterion king of Knossos.
But what about Rhadamanthus?
He is the supreme judge and rules in Phaistos,
but he could not gain power here in Knossos.
What do you think I can do?
I've heard you have a new way of fighting.
If you could defeat Taurus tomorrow,
his reputation would be greatly weakened.
But the real danger is the monstrous Asterion.
What do you mean by monstrous?
He is deformed both physically and morally,
so much so that he is kept hidden in this labyrinth,
spending his time in acts of depravity
with whores of both sexes and even some animals.
But how could he ever rule as a king?
That is just the point: he couldn't.
So Taurus and Pasiphae would hold the power.
Does your mother really want this?
She is in love with Taurus and would go along,
but if you could defeat Taurus and slay Asterion,
I think she would be happy with my father.
Will I be allowed to challenge Taurus in the arena?
Yes, because he is the reigning champion,
and besides, my father hates him and likes you;
although I must say,
I think I like you even more.
Ariadne puts her arms around Theseus, and he responds to her embrace.
You are quite a woman, Ariadne.
Then will you take me with you
and make me your queen?
But if Asterion is killed,
you could be queen here.
Yes, but I'd rather be with you.
And I would like to have you,
but before going into all this,
I want to talk with Rhadamanthus.
Could you take me to see him tonight?
I will, but before we do that,
will you give me one more passionate kiss?
I will, with pleasure.
They kiss passionately.
INT. ROOM OF RHADAMANTHUS - NIGHT
Theseus is talking with Rhadamanthus, as Ariadne listens at one side.
Then you have no objection to our plan?
I stand for the law and justice,
but so far any attempt to bring Asterion to justice
for his many crimes has been thwarted by Pasiphae.
The gods told me that someone would come to bring
a new form of lawmaking and more equal justice.
I believe that you may be that person, Theseus.
I am sure he is, uncle.
I have had dreams.
I have had dreams too,
that tribes will cooperate
in larger and larger groups until eventually
all the people will follow the same laws of justice.
But who will make those laws?
The people themselves will meet together to decide.
That is what you will begin in Athens,
and it will spread throughout Greece and the world.
But I am to be king;
kings have always ruled
since people have gathered into cities.
Yes, but here we found that it is better
if the one enforcing the laws is different
from the one who is judging the lawbreakers.
So King Minos rules and you judge.
Yes, but you are the one
who will trust the people
to think and discuss things in assemblies.
That is not new;
that is the old tribal way.
But you will unite the tribes under one law.
How can I do that?
By having each local group send an emissary
to a larger council of lawmakers.
So will they make the laws instead of the king?
Yes, because look what happens to the state
if the king is corrupt or arrogant,
as kings often tend to be.
But an assembly of people can be just as foolish.
They can, but it is much less likely.
Why are you telling me all this?
Because the gods have instructed me to do so.
I will not forget what you have said.
Theseus and Ariadne go out.
INT. ARIADNE'S ROOM - NIGHT
Ariadne leads Theseus to her couch.
Please Theseus, I can wait no longer.
I want to enjoy your body.
I too would like to make love to you,
and I was told to respect Aphrodite
above all the gods while on this expedition.
So I don't see why we shouldn't celebrate love.
They undress each other and make love.
EXT. KNOSSOS ARENA - DAY
Theseus and the thirteen other Athenians are performing with a bull in the ring. This bull is much more wild and ferocious than the one used during the training. However, the Athenians have been well prepared by their leader Theseus and perform well without injury. Periboea runs toward the bull and grasping the horns turns a somersault on its back, then straightens up on the bull's back before leaping into the arms of Theseus. They embrace for a moment, while the crowd cheers and Ariadne stares jealously from the royal viewing area. Sitting there with her are Phaedra, Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Pasiphae. Taurus joins them.
Well, do you like what you see?
Did I train them well enough?
Please sit down here next to me, Taurus.
Taurus sits next to Pasiphae, while Minos appears uncomfortable.
This bull seems to me to be too wild.
I'm afraid it may be too dangerous for them.
But that is the sport: no dangers, no thrills.
Do you think they will be able to collar the bull?
I think that Theseus could do almost anything.
I won't be surprised to see him do it.
He captured the bull
that killed Prince Androgeus.
Theseus with help from the other six males and the two youths disguised as females moves in to take hold of the horns and wrestle the bull to the ground. The crowd cheers. Minos stands and addresses the crowd.
We honor the Athenians for their success!
Now let the contests begin.
Working as a team they made it look easy.
I am very impressed with this young Theseus.
Taurus has entered the ring to take on any challenger. A LARGE MAN steps forward to fight against him, but he is soon knocked out by a powerful punch from Taurus. As some ATTENDANTS carry the large man off, Theseus approaches the royal viewing area and calls to Minos.
King Minos, with your permission
I would like to challenge this Taurus.
No one is excluded from the contests.
Go ahead, Theseus, and fight with him.
Minos is pleased; but Pasiphae is apprehensive, while Ariadne and Phaedra are excited and eagerly watch. While Taurus fights like a boxer, Theseus dodges and moves like a wrestler, eventually getting a hold on Taurus and throwing him over his shoulder to the ground. Theseus then jumps on Taurus and pins him down.
This is a new way of fighting.
Instead of using the brute force of punching,
he seems to be using skill as well as strength.
Do you give up, Taurus?
For now, Theseus, for now.
Theseus gets off Taurus and begins to walk away, but Taurus runs after him, attacking his back and knocking Theseus down. Theseus gets up, and they spar some more. Eventually Theseus gets Taurus down with one of his arms twisted painfully behind his back.
Now have you had enough, Taurus?
Or shall I break your arm?
You win, Theseus; I admit defeat.
Theseus lets Taurus up and watches him carefully as they walk toward the royal viewing area. Minos again stands and announces to the cheering crowd.
Our new champion is Theseus, son of Aegeus.
Is there anyone who wishes to challenge him?
He pauses, but no one responds. Ariadne is beaming with admiration for Theseus, but Pasiphae is disappointed.
Then the contest is concluded.
In recognition of the success of the Athenians
and the victory of Theseus in this contest
I hereby set them free from bondage
and announce to you today a new treaty
with Athens and an end to their tribute.
Taurus looks angry and resentful.
That Theseus is really a wonder!
More wonderful than you know, little sister.
INT. LABYRINTH HALLWAY - EVENING
Taurus instructs the Guard Captain.
I don't care what Minos said today;
you keep the Athenians here under guard.
Yes, Taurus, I will obey you.
INT. ENTRANCE TO THE LABYRINTH - NIGHT
Ariadne hands Theseus a spool of thread.
Daedalus gave me this thread with the instruction
to tie one end here to the lintel.
Let it unwind as you go in to the labyrinth;
then follow the thread to find your way out.
Taurus still has your men and maidens under guard.
My men are ready to break their way out tonight,
but what do you want me to do
and how will I find my way in?
For me I ask you, in the name of Aphrodite,
to slay the monstrous Asterion.
I will lead you to his secret room.
I have already told the pilot of your ship
to be ready to sail at any moment.
After I've guided you in,
I'll meet you here later;
for I must not be seen there
when Asterion is slain.
Theseus has attached the thread to the lintel, and they proceed down the stairs and hallways. Finally Ariadne points out the door of Asterion's room. Ariadne hands Theseus a knife.
Inside you will find Asterion.
Use this sacrificial knife and be quick.
Theseus takes the knife and enters the room, as Ariadne leaves.
INT. ASTERION'S ROOM - NIGHT
Theseus comes in and finds the deformed ASTERION drugged or drunk and half asleep next to a HARLOT. Theseus goes over and stabs Asterion fatally.
On the word of the Princess Ariadne
and the judge Rhadamanthus I do this.
Theseus leaves the knife in Asterion, and quickly goes out.
INT. LABYRINTH HALLWAYS - NIGHT
Theseus rewinds the thread as he makes many turns in the labyrinth.
INT. LABYRINTH GUARDED ROOM - NIGHT
The two effeminate youths with the Athenian maidens come out of the room and grab the two guards, wrestling them to the ground. The maidens help to tie them up and gag them by using parts of their dresses they have stripped off.
INT. LABYRINTH HALLWAY - NIGHT
The three guards of the men hear noises from the other struggles. The six Athenian men come out of the room and fight with the guards, eventually taking their weapons and killing them. The six men are joined by the five maidens and two other young men, and they all begin to leave through the hallway.
INT. ENTRANCE TO THE LABYRINTH - NIGHT
Ariadne is waiting anxiously when Theseus, winding the thread, returns to her. They embrace.
Did you kill Asterion?
Yes, he is dead.
Where are the others?
They hear the sound of footsteps.
I think I hear them now.
They are joined by the other thirteen Athenians.
Is everyone here?
Yes, Theseus; we all made it.
Now follow me to the harbor.
Ariadne leads them out.
EXT. KNOSSOS HARBOR - NIGHT
Ariadne is leading the Athenians to their ship, when Taurus comes
running up, carrying the bloody knife that killed Asterion. Taurus shouts at Theseus.
Someone murdered my son Asterion!
Was it you, Theseus?
Yes, Taurus, your revolt is stopped.
Not yet it isn't.
Will you fight me alone?
One of the Athenian men hands Theseus one of the guard's knives they took, and Theseus walks over to Taurus on the shore. They fight, and eventually Theseus kills Taurus. Then as other GUARDS OF TAURUS come running up, Theseus quickly joins the Athenians and Ariadne in the boat, and they row away.
EXT. BOAT WITH BLACK SAIL - NIGHT
The black sail has caught some wind, as they distance themselves from the island of Crete. The Athenian youths dance and sing in celebration of their escape. Ariadne hands a statuette of the snake goddess to Theseus.
I brought this for you, my husband.
It is sacred to Aphrodite, our love goddess.
Teach me your feminine ways of love, Ariadne.
With pleasure and joy, my darling Theseus.
They embrace and kiss.
EXT. ISLAND OF NAXOS - SUNSET
The Athenians are celebrating with some of the NATIVES of the island. The thirteen Athenians and Theseus are dancing the crane dance together, while Ariadne is drinking much wine. When the dance is ended, Theseus joins Ariadne.
That was a wonderful dance!
Are you all right, dearest Ariadne?
There is no water in your wine.
I love the god of wine;
he is my best friend.
She drinks some more and nearly passes out. Theseus lets her sleep and decides to lay down himself. Eventually he falls asleep. In his dream we see the goddess ATHENA appear to him with a message.
Theseus, son of Poseidon, I am Athena
come to warn you about this woman.
Why did she make you kill Asterion?
You should think more before you act.
How will Athens react to her snake goddess statue?
Leave her here on Naxos with Dionysus;
he will take care of her.
Theseus opens his eyes and thinks about his dream. He looks at the snake goddess statuette and places it next to the sleeping Ariadne.
EXT. ISLAND OF NAXOS - DAWN
Theseus is waking the other Athenians, while the natives and Ariadne are sleeping. They proceed to the shore and depart in the boat with the black sails. Just as they are embarking, Ariadne awakes and sees them. She cries out, but they are too far away to hear her.
Theseus, where are you going?!
Don't leave me behind. I love you.
Ariadne looks at the statuette next to her, feels forlorn and weeps. After a while DIONYSUS approaches her with a skin of wine.
I have been looking for you.
I found some more wine.
Thank you, Dionysus;
I could use some now.
She drinks with him.
EXT. ISLAND OF DELOS - DAY
Theseus and the Athenians are holding contests and games. The maidens run a race, which is won by Periboea. Theseus calls to her.
Periboea, let me
give you something for winning.
She comes over to Theseus, and he weaves a palm leaf into a crown and puts it on her head.
What is this for?
A celebration of your victory in the race,
so that people will know you are the champion.
INT. PALACE OF AEGEUS - DAY
A MESSENGER comes in with news for Aegeus.
The ship of Theseus has been seen approaching.
I must go see if the sail is black or red.
EXT. SEASHORE CLIFF NEAR ATHENS - DAY
Aegeus comes to the edge of the cliff to look out at the ship which still has the black sail. He speaks to the messenger.
Why didn't you tell me the sail is black?
I didn't have the heart.
I cannot stand it.
My son must be dead.
Aegeus leaps off the edge of the cliff.
EXT. SHORE NEAR ATHENS - DAY
Theseus and the thirteen have gathered around a pot cooking over a fire on the beach.
Put all the different kinds of beans into the pot
so that we can share what is left together.
EXT. STREETS OF ATHENS - DAY
Theseus carrying an olive branch wreathed with white wool leads the thirteen in a parade into Athens amid great celebration. A PRIESTESS greets them at the temple of Athena.
PRIESTESS OF ATHENA
Welcome home to Athens, Theseus.
Where is my father, Aegeus?
PRIESTESS OF ATHENA
First we shall perform the sacrifice to the goddess
with the mothers of the returning youths.
The ritual is performed.
May the Athenian mothers always tell this story.
Now tell me where my father is.
Why isn't he here to greet me?
I'm sorry to tell you, Theseus,
but your father went out to see your ship return;
and when he saw the black sail
in great despair he leaped off the cliff.
Sad to say I must report that Aegeus is dead.
How could we have forgotten about the sail?
Now the triumphant celebrations
of our independence
are turned into mourning
for the loss of our king.
Cries of sorrow are heard among the crowd which before was joyfully celebrating.
INT. COUNCIL HALL IN ATHENS - DAY
Many leading Athenians from the various townships are enjoying a public feast. As most people are finished eating, Theseus stands and addresses them.
Thank you all for coming to this Feast of Union.
As you know, the joy of our new independence
from the tribute we had previously paid to Minos
was soon overshadowed by the death of King Aegeus.
Although as his son, many agreed I should be king,
others were not convinced to follow my rule.
As often has occurred in the past,
the divisions between the local towns and councils
led to quarrels and sometimes to fighting and death.
So I went to each of your councils in turn,
attempting to persuade you that we should unite
into a larger commonwealth ruled by a greater council.
I promised that I would relinquish the kingship,
if the people were persuaded to rule by election.
Though all did not agree at first,
those who did not were convinced by the power
of those of us who did agree to accept the union.
Thus have we built this great council hall
where representatives of each town can meet
to make the laws and settle the disputes of Athens.
This common feast and the sacrifices we perform
we have named the Festival of All Athens.
Guided by the oracle of Delphi which assures us
that we shall prosper and survive,
just as the inflated bladder helps us to swim.
We have sent out envoys with the message,
"Come here, all you people and share with us."
Our city is well organized with justice and peace.
To the nobles is committed the care of religion,
the choosing of judges, the teaching of the laws,
interpreting and directing all sacred things.
The other two classes are no less equal:
the farmers are allowed to excel in wealth,
and the artisans are powerful in their numbers.
To facilitate the exchange of goods and trade
we have made coins out of precious metals
to replace an ox, ten oxen, and a hundred oxen.
In emulation of Heracles I established contests
in poetry, music and athletics to be held
at the isthmus in cooperation with Corinth.
So let us give thanks to the gods of persuasion
and common love that we may all live in peace.
Everyone cheers and pounds on the table.
EXT. ATHENIAN SHIP AT AMAZONIA - DAY
The Athenian ship is at anchor near a barren shore. ANTIOPE calls to them from the beach.
Theseus, the Amazons have sent me with gifts.
Then let me help you.
Theseus jumps into the sea and wades over to Antiope. He takes the gifts and wades with her to the ship. He hands the gifts to SOLOON and then helps Antiope on board by lifting her out of the water. He then climbs aboard himself.
My name is Antiope.
So this is some of your crew.
Theseus introduces Antiope to Soloon, EUNEOS, and THOAS.
Yes, this is Soloon, Euneos, and Thoas.
They are brothers.
Please dine with us.
INT. CABIN ON THE ATHENIAN SHIP - EVENING
Theseus and Antiope are embracing romantically.
You know that we Amazons never marry,
for only women are allowed into our community.
Yes, but for your community to continue
you must at least mate with men.
Oh yes, we love men very much.
And do you love me, Antiope?
I would like to bear your child, Theseus.
Then you shall come with us to Athens.
But I must not leave our community.
Let them just think I carried you off.
Their lovemaking becomes more passionate.
EXT. ATHENIAN SHIP AT SEA - DAY
The Athenian ship is sailing along the coast. Soloon is watching Antiope, as she sun bathes on the deck in the nude. Soloon speaks to Euneus.
She is so beautiful;
I don't know what to do.
Will you help me, brother,
to tell her I love her?
Certainly, Soloon, I will speak for you.
Euneus goes over and sits next to Antiope, while Soloon watches.
How are you and your brothers doing?
We are fine, Antiope, except for Soloon.
What is the matter with him?
I'm afraid that he has fallen in love with you.
Doesn't he know
I'm conceiving a child with Theseus?
Your beauty seems to have erased all other thoughts.
Please tell him that I am Theseus' woman
and that he should direct his attentions elsewhere.
Euneus goes back to Soloon.
What did she say?
Does she care for me at all?
You mustn't think of her anymore, brother;
she is committed to Theseus.
INT. CABIN OF THE ATHENIAN SHIP AT SEA - EVENING
Soloon enters the room in which Antiope is alone. He goes over to her and tries to embrace her.
Dear Antiope, I must have you.
Soloon, I told your brother that you cannot.
I have nothing against you,
but please leave me alone.
Antiope pushes Soloon away and goes out of the cabin. Soloon appears desperate and follows after her.
EXT. ATHENIAN SHIP AT SEA - EVENING
Antiope comes on deck and goes over to Theseus. Soloon comes after her; but seeing Theseus, he jumps into the sea near a river. The ship is moving quickly, and Soloon is soon left behind and drowns.
I think Soloon has jumped overboard.
Euneus and Thoas come over to see, but it is too late.
Stop the ship and go back.
Why would he do such a foolish thing?
He was secretly in love with Antiope.
Is this true?
Yes, but I gave him no encouragement
and treated him with discretion and respect.
This is terrible;
I feel great sorrow at his loss.
He chose his own destiny,
but I am sorry for it too.
This reminds me of an oracle
I was given at Delphi.
The priestess of Apollo Pythius told me that
wherever I was most sorrowful in a strange land
I should found a city
and leave some people there.
Euneus and Thoas, will you build a city here
and call it Pythopolis in honor of Apollo?
We should be honored to do so, Theseus.
Then to you I entrust its government and laws.
I have a noble friend from Athens named Hermus,
who I think will join us.
Good; so may Apollo bless your venture.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF ATHENS - DAY
Theseus, Antiope, and the Athenians are prepared for a battle with the attacking AMAZONS.
I sacrificed to Fear, the son of the god of war.
I feel responsible for this attack on Athens,
for the Amazons will not allow any woman to leave.
Yet I must stay here with you, Theseus,
so that we can raise our son, Hippolytus, together.
It is not your fault, Antiope, that they attack;
and we must defend our city of Athens.
Athenians! Fight for your city now!
Theseus raises his arm and leads the attack with the left wing. The right wing of Athenians also attacks but is quickly routed with many casualties. Afterwards Antiope directs the care of the wounded, both Athenians and Amazons.
Someone help me to take the wounded
to Chalcis where we can care for them.
Several Athenians help Antiope to assist and carry the wounded.
EXT. CHALCIS STATION FOR THE WOUNDED - DAY
Antiope helps the physicians treat the wounded.
EXT. OUTSKIRTS OF ATHENS - DAY
Another battle is raging, but this time the Athenian left wing drives back the right wing of the Amazons. However, Antiope is shot and killed by an arrow from MOLPADIA, who is then attacked and killed by Theseus. The Amazons are defeated and retreat.
EXT. MARATHON PLAIN - DAY
PIRITHOUS is driving a herd of cattle away, when Theseus approaches him from the other direction.
Why are you driving off my cattle?
You must be Theseus.
I have heard such astounding tales about you,
your great strength, valor, and skill in battle,
that I decided to see what you would do
if I were to take some of your cattle.
I have come to stop you.
What else would I do?
So I see.
You are very impressive, Theseus.
In fact my desire to fight against you
has completely escaped from my heart.
I'll tell you what I'll do:
since you are known to be such a great judge,
I'll submit my case to your judgment.
You decide whatever you think is best.
What is your name?
Are you willing to assist me in driving these cattle
back to where they belong, Pirithous?
Of course; that seems reasonable to me.
Then after we take care of that chore,
I invite you to dine with me.
I'd be delighted to join you, Theseus.
They begin to herd the cattle back in the other direction.
INT. PALACE OF THESEUS - DAY
Theseus and Pirithous are enjoying a feast.
So after leaving Ariadne
according to the goddess,
you later went back
and married her sister, Phaedra.
Phaedra is another beautiful devotee of Aphrodite,
and alliance with the family of Minos is helpful.
Where is it, you say you rule, Pirithous?
Over the Magnetes at the mouth of the river Peneus.
I understand you had to put down a revolt
by the sons of Pallas to maintain your democracy.
The council ruled it was justifiable homicide,
but I am to go into exile for purification.
Why don't you come and stay with me?
That would be good,
but first I'm going to Troezen
where my son by Antiope,
the young Hippolytus, lives.
Why does he live there instead of in Athens?
I thought it would be better for him
if he was raised by the noble Pittheus.
Since Athens does not consider him legitimate,
he can eventually rule in Troezen,
while my sons by Phaedra may rule in Athens.
I like you very much, Pirithous.
Will you take an oath of eternal friendship with me?
With all my heart, Theseus, I certainly will.
They clasp each other's arms.
EXT. TEMPLE OF APHRODITE IN TROEZEN - DAY
Phaedra, now about forty years old, lays on a couch in the garden of the temple enclosure near a myrtle tree which overlooks a gymnasium. Her NURSE walks over to her.
My noble Queen Phaedra, please won't you eat?
This is the third day since you've had anything.
How will you keep up your body's strength,
or will you just gradually weaken and die?
Perhaps that is better, dear nurse.
Better?! Better than what?
Are you out of your senses?
Yes, I think I am, for my heart is lost.
Just because your lord Theseus is away for a while,
that is no reason to shrivel up and die.
Alas, it is not the noble Theseus who afflicts me.
Rather I am in danger of betraying his trust.
Like my mother and sister Ariadne,
I too have become the plaything of Aphrodite.
But you have brought statues of Artemis here
to celebrate the worship of the chaste goddess.
Yes, I would gladly follow her into the woods
and pursue the chase among the spring flowers;
for the one who wounds me is devoted to Artemis,
but Aphrodite has me in her passionate grip.
Dearest queen, if you let yourself die,
your sons may be displaced by the Amazon's son.
Oh, as you mention him, he comes.
How could I go on living in this confused state?
HIPPOLYTUS has entered the gymnasium and proceeds to strip off his clothes and begin his exercises in the nude. Phaedra gets up and goes over to the myrtle tree which hides her as she observes Hippolytus. While watching him she takes a pin from her dress and constantly uses it to punch holes in the myrtle leaves in her anxiety.
I can help you only if you tell me what it is.
What I dare not speak for shame has appeared.
See how strong and beautiful he is!
But he is dedicated to the chastity of Artemis.
Countless are the number of those youthful vows
that have been broken under Aphrodite's influence.
Let me go talk to him and invite him to see you.
And betray my husband?
How could you?
Almost any shame is better than your death.
Let us see what will happen.
Go if you must and ask him to come here.
I can resist no longer.
As Phaedra watches Hippolytus, the Nurse goes down and talks with him. He looks up toward Phaedra, puts on his clothes, and comes up to her. The nurse goes into the temple.
Noble queen mother, you would talk with me.
Please do not call me mother, dear Hippolytus,
for everyone knows your mother was the Amazon.
Please sit with me on this couch.
Hippolytus sits on the couch near Phaedra, who moves over a little closer to him.
What is it you want, Phaedra?
Oh, if I could only have what I want!
Why not? You are Queen of Athens,
and I rule here in Troezen now.
Please tell me what I can do for you.
It is difficult to speak of, dear Hippolytus.
What are you afraid of? I am like your son.
Oh no, don't say that!
I want to be your friend.
Of course, but I don't understand what this is about.
Perhaps it is better that I just die.
What are you saying?
Please speak frankly.
I love you, Hippolytus.
I've been watching you
in the gymnasium from behind that tree,
and such passion has been aroused in me
that I cannot express the depth of my feeling.
No, no! This is not right.
How could you?
You know in my country we worship Aphrodite,
and we wear our dresses like this.
Phaedra opens the top of her dress to reveal her breasts. Hippolytus jumps to his feet and steps away from her.
First you watch me in the nude, and now this?!
The nurse quickly runs over from the temple, makes her announcement and then goes back into the temple.
Theseus is coming.
Please promise that you will meet me in secret.
I'll agree to no such thing.
You women are disgusting;
I'll never understand you.
Love me, Hippolytus;
or I'll tell Theseus
that you tried to rape me.
You are wicked!
Phaedra rips her dress open. Hippolytus stares at her aghast, turns, and runs off by way of the gymnasium. Theseus coming to Phaedra sees Hippolytus running away.
What is this?
Wasn't that Hippolytus?
Why is he in such a hurry?
And look at you.
What's the matter, dear Phaedra?
I am ashamed to say it, dear lord.
Your son Hippolytus just tried to rape me;
but when he heard you were coming,
he ran off like a coward.
I tried to resist him as best I could.
You can see how he ripped my dress open.
I can't believe this: my own son with my wife!
I'll die of shame.
How could I go on?
But he is the guilty one!
Nevermore shall he violate this sanctuary.
Have no fear, dear Phaedra,
I shall banish him from our court.
Theseus goes after Hippolytus, catching up with him at the entrance to the gymnasium, where Hippolytus is sitting in despair.
Son, my wife just told me a very disturbing story,
that you tried to force yourself on her.
Father, don't tell me that you believe her.
I saw her dress ripped to shreds.
I could not do such a thing;
you know that I am chaste above all others.
Never have I known a woman in that way.
Why would I choose her of all people?
Others are younger and more beautiful.
Do you think I want to take your place?
I don't know what to think now,
but I must trust the word of my wife.
Hippolytus, my son, you must go into exile
and nevermore appear in this court nor in Athens.
You've brought shame upon my house.
The sooner you get out of my sight the better,
before I take it upon myself to kill you now.
Though innocent of this charge, I go nonetheless.
You are my father, and I must obey.
Hippolytus stands up and walks toward his chariot to leave. Theseus returns to the temple garden to find Phaedra hanging from the myrtle tree by the straps of her dress.
O gods! What dreadful spectacle is this!?
The nurse comes out of the temple and also sees the dead Phaedra.
I was afraid of this; she was desperate.
Theseus goes over to Phaedra's body, holds it with one arm as he uses his sword to cut her down. He carries the body in his arms and lays it on the couch.
My dear wife, was the shame too much for you?
O Poseidon, who promised to answer three prayers,
only once before have I asked for your help.
Now in my wrath I charge you to bring vengeance
on that bastard son of mine who dishonored my wife.
Let him not escape beyond this single day.
What? What are you saying, noble Theseus?
Your wife was devoted to the Love Goddess;
now Aphrodite has used her to punish your son;
for in his proud chastity he spurned her.
Can't you see that she is getting her revenge
through your misplaced jealous passion?
What do you mean "misplaced?"
Did not Hippolytus use his manly strength
to violate her feminine weakness?
No, before the gods I saw it all from inside.
She was hopelessly in love with Hippolytus,
but he was only repulsed by her desires.
So she ripped her dress and falsely accused him.
Oh no! These goddesses have made a fool of me.
I must go after him right away.
Theseus runs toward the gymnasium entrance, gets in his chariot and departs.
EXT. SHORE NEAR TROEZEN - DAY
Hippolytus is driving his chariot at a good clip in his frustration. Theseus is coming up behind him; but when Hippolytus hears Theseus calling him, he is afraid and goes faster.
As they race along the shore at dangerous speeds, a huge wave from the ocean comes breaking on the shore just as Hippolytus is passing an olive tree. One of the reins catches on a branch of the tree, causing the chariot to break apart and go crashing on the rocks. Theseus comes up, stops, and jumps off his chariot to attend to Hippolytus.
You need not fear me anymore, father;
I am broken.
Don't try to talk.
I know I was wrong.
The nurse told me everything.
Phaedra killed herself in despair,
and now you are dying by my own curse.
Poseidon rules over horses and the sea,
and so now you suffer for my foolish jealousy.
Could you ever forgive me for this bloodshed?
Before Artemis, I swear that I do, dear father.
Yours is a holy and a noble soul.
Hippolytus dies, and Theseus weeps.
INT. PALACE OF THESEUS IN ATHENS - DAY
Theseus is dining with his latest girl-friend ANAXO and Pirithous.
I'm sorry to hear that your bride Deidamia died.
That was some wedding
with the Lapiths and Centaurs.
There wasn't even room in my palace for everyone;
so we had to put some of the Centaurs in a cave.
Centaurs don't know to drink water with their wine.
It was a brawl all right, but we showed them.
So what have you been doing since Phaedra died?
I see you have a new friend.
Yes, I brought Anaxo here from Troezen.
Well, I went on the hunt for the Calydonian boar,
and I helped mediate the dispute in Thebes
after the war between the sons of Oedipus
so that all the slain could be honorably buried.
I've been playing music more than before.
Dear, would you please go get my lyre
so that I could play for Pirithous?
I'd be glad to, dear Theseus.
Anaxo leaves the room.
You haven't married this young woman, have you?
No, unfortunately she is not of a noble house;
the Athenians would never accept her as queen.
Since my wife died, I got an idea.
Why don't you and I go to Sparta
and carry off the divinely beautiful Helen?
Do you mean the sister of Castor and Pollux?
Yes, she would be a noble match for anyone.
I'm already fifty years old, but that's all right.
Yet isn't Helen rather young for marriage?
She is now only twelve years old,
but in four years she'll make a wonderful bride.
But we both can't marry her.
We could cast lots for her,
and then the winner could help the loser
to carry off the next worthiest match.
You're a scoundrel; but I'll think about it.
Anaxo returns with the lyre and hands it to Theseus who begins to play.
INT. TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS - DAY
HELEN is dancing, as Theseus and Pirithous watch among others. Suddenly Pirithous steps forward and grabs Helen, picking her up in his arms and carrying her out the door, as Theseus accompanies and guards him.
EXT. TEMPLE OF ARTEMIS - DAY
Pirithous places Helen in their chariot, and he and Theseus take off in haste.
INT. PALACE OF APHIDNUS - DAY
Theseus and Pirithous leave Helen with APHIDNUS and the now elderly mother of Theseus, Aethra.
Helen, you will be safe here with Aphidnus,
and my mother is here to take care of you.
Since I was lucky enough to win the lot,
I must now help my friend Pirithous
to find a bride of his own too.
No one must know that you are here,
since your brothers are trying to take you back.
Where are you going?
To Epirus for a daughter of the Molossian king.
EXT. MOLOSSIAN PALACE - NIGHT
Theseus and Pirithous are skulking around the palace when they encounter some ferocious Molossian hounds. They are attacked by the dogs, and Pirithous is killed. However, KING AIDONEUS comes out with some MOLOSSIAN GUARDS, and they capture Theseus alive.
Who are you, and what do you want?
I am Theseus,
and that is my friend Pirithous.
We are trying to see your daughter, King Aidoneus.
I'm afraid your friend is dead, Theseus.
Suitors of my daughter must fight these dogs first.
Since you came by stealth in the night,
you shall be put in prison as punishment.
Take him there.
The guards escort Theseus away.
INT. ATHENS COUNCIL HALL - DAY
MENESTHEUS is giving a speech to the assembled council.
What good has Theseus' government done for us?
He has robbed us each of our kingdoms
so that he could lord it over all of us.
He calls it democracy, but he is still king.
Most of the time he's off on some new adventure.
What has happened to our local religions
in this grand new federation of towns?
We have all lost our freedom and become slaves
to his tyrannical state that is too big
and not responsive to the wishes of the people.
What about the Dioscurii who are about to attack?
Have you talked with Castor and Pollux
about the abduction of their sister Helen?
Yes, and I have managed to convince them
that she is not here in Athens.
I have offered some of our Athenian men
to go with them and help to retrieve her.
SECOND LOCAL LEADER
What about Theseus?
I have learned that he is imprisoned at Epirus
for trying to abduct another maiden with Pirithous.
So I say our allegiance to King Theseus,
a newcomer and stranger from Troezen, is ended.
Let us take back control of our own governments.
Hail to Menestheus! Hail to Menestheus!
INT. PRISON AT EPIRUS - DAY
Theseus has a long beard and appears much older and somewhat emaciated by malnutrition as he sits on the rock floor of his prison cell. The door opens, and HERACLES is let in by the guard.
Heracles! There is no one I would rather see.
I just discovered you were here, Theseus.
How long have they kept you in this place?
I think it is about four years now.
It looks like they haven't given you enough food.
Yes, but I've had so much time to think.
You'd be amazed how much
I've learned about myself.
Are you following the Delphic motto
that advises us to know ourselves?
Yes, it is wonderful counsel.
I have made so many mistakes in my life,
especially since the death of Phaedra.
We men must learn to respect women more
and not fight each other with violence.
Death and gods and goddesses in the underworld
have been teaching me so much here.
In the underworld?
What are you talking about?
Do you remember when you and I went together
and were initiated into the mysteries at Eleusis?
How could I forget that?
It was the most astonishing experience of my life.
It's all true, Heracles;
the whole story is true.
Just as the plant seems to die, the seed is reborn.
Death is a journey of our soul out of the body
into another world more beautiful than this one.
I've been there, Heracles, and now I know.
You do seem somehow marvelously at peace.
How strange that these four long years
which others would consider so terrible
may have been the best years of your life!
Yes, life and death are truly mysteries,
and what we think we know is so little.
Come with me now, Theseus;
I've come to take you home.
Heracles helps Theseus to his feet, and they embrace.
EXT. CLIFF ON THE ISLAND OF SCYROS.
Theseus is walking with KING LYCOMEDES near the edge of a high cliff with an excellent view.
The Athenians have been turned against me,
they no longer obey silently,
but expect to be flattered and begged to do
what they used to consider their duty.
Menestheus is their new leader.
So I was hoping to trade my land in Athens
for something here where I could live in peace.
Let me show you what there is.
If we step over to the edge here,
then you can see a very long way.
This is a wonderful view!
They walk over to the brink of a precipice, and then Lycomedes pushes Theseus over the edge. Theseus falls a long way before his body is crushed when it lands on the rocks.
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