Pasiphae, wife of King Minos of Crete, mated with a bull and gave birth to the Minotaur, half-man half-bull. King Minos had a maze, the Labyrinth, created to imprison the monster.
In Athens, every year 7 boys and 7 girls were brought over to Crete to be eaten in the Minotaur's Labyrinth. On the third year, Theseus, the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, volunteered as tribute to slay the beast.
Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos, fell in love with Theseus when he arrived. To help him in the maze, she gave him a ball of string so he could follow it back to the entrance.
Theseus tied the thread to the entrance of the Labyrinth and ventured in. He slayed the Minotaur and followed Ariadne's gift back to escape. He, Ariadne and the Athenian children fled Crete to return to Athens.
The ship paused at the island Naxos for a night of celebration. By morning, the ship - with Theseus on it - had left Ariadne alone, either by Theseus' intention or tragic accident where the hero realised too late.
Theseus had promised his father to change his ship's black sails to white if he still lived on the ship's return. The hero forgot, so when the king saw the sails from afar, he thought he was dead. The man threw himself off a cliff into the sea, which is now known as the Aegean.