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The Myth and History

As stated on the School of Performing Arts website, "The Cretans" is an original verse play structured around an extant fragment of Euripides' "The Cretans." The play brings to life the story of Pasiphae's betrayal of King Minos with the white bull, the subsequent birth of the Minotaur, Minos' revenge on Daedalus for having crafted the disguise that lured the white bull, and on Pasiphae for her infidelity. The action ultimately leads to the creation of the labyrinth to contain the monster and to the imprisonment of Daedalus and Icarus. The questions in the play revolve around issues of betrayal and loyalty, of personal and social responsibility, of fate and free will, and of the end of Matriarchy and the rise of Patriarchy."

Between character names like Daedalus, Icarus, and Pasiphae, there may be some confusion as to how everyone is connected. Below is a video from Useful Charts on YouTube, which goes into detail about the family trees in Greek mythology. 








Euripides wrote "The Cretans" in 435 BCE. Only fragments of the tragedy have survived, but what has been saved are iconic, timeless pieces of Euripides' work, such as Hippolytus' speech, which the playwright Ed Falco used in his adaptation of the piece.


Euripides was a regular at the Dionysia, a festival that showcased theater performances and dramatic tragedies. Still, unfortunately, his creative pieces were not capturing the likes of audiences as they do today. He was the least honored at the time, standing in the shadow of Aeschylus, who won thirteen theater competitions, and Sophocles, who had eighteen victories, according to New World Encyclopedia. However, Euripides is one of the most well-known tragedians to this day. His work became more popular than Aeschylus, and Sophocles combined since virtually every play of his has survived​, even if in partial form, and unfortunately, that is not the same case for his competitors.


The archival of his works over the centuries has brought on many new modern adaptations to his classics, including the Virginia Tech School of Performing Art's rendition of The Cretans. The audio drama is the first of its kind at Virginia Tech, and it goes to show how new interpretations of Euripides' work are still being created centuries later. 

Terms to Know 

Minotaur: "a monster shaped half like a man and half like a bull, confined in the labyrinth built by Daedalus for Minos, and given a periodic tribute of youths and maidens as food until slain by Theseus" - from Merriam-Webster

Labyrinth: "a place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys" from - Merriam-Webster

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