In the Greek mythology story of Theseus and the Minotaur, King Minos of Crete ordered the labyrinth to be built as a way of housing a fierce half-man, half-bull creature known as the Minotaur, to whom seven young men and seven young women from Athens would be sacrificed each year. According to the myth, the labyrinth is a massive maze-like structure built by a man named Daedalus at the behest of King Minos; the maze that Daedalus constructed was so incredibly complex that even he could barely make his way through it. The hero Theseus ends up offering himself as a tribute to be sacrificed in the labyrinth, though his intention is to kill the Minotaur or die trying.
When Theseus is presented to King Minos along with the other tributes, the king's daughter, Ariadne, sees him and falls in love. She resolves to help him survive, giving the young hero a sword to use as defense and a piece of string to use to find his way back out of the labyrinth. Theseus defeated the Minotaur and escaped, but his love story with Ariadne had a rather unhappy ending when he abandoned her on an island on his way home to Athens.