The Soldier's Dream 9
The Unraveling of the tale
The Soldier comes at last to the sleeping chamber
of the Minotaur, creeps into the darkness, and
sets the leather bag down. Silently, he moves
closer to the couch where he can see dimly the
Beast in repose and can hear him breathing. As his
eyes adjust to the darkness, or perhaps it is from
a growing luminosity, he can see that the Beast is
naked. The Soldier groans at his fate and hears
the Beast groan also, whether at his fate or simply
a groan, the Soldier knows not. The Soldier
becomes aware that the Minotaur is watching him
and he is also aware that the Minotaur is becoming
fully erect. They watch each other for a long time
and, at last, the Beast raises himself up and
stands. Very deliberately, the Soldier lets his
tunic fall to the floor and stands naked before the
Minotaur and slowly kneels and touches his head to
the floor before him.
The Minotaur takes a step toward
the Soldier, who raises his head and
embraces and kisses the Minotaur's
knees and his loins. The Soldier
begins to raise himself to his feet in
the embrace of the Minotaur, and in
a single careful motion, the no-plan is
drawn out of its hiding place and the
Soldier enters his dagger into the
Minotaur's stomach up, up under the
breast bone and into his heart.
The Minotaur makes a great groan and holds the Soldier in a tight embrace, blood gushing over them
both and falls to the ground on top of the Soldier. They lie together in the spreading pool of blood as
life and strength fall away from the Minotaur and his sinews and muscles slacken and all is finally still.
For several days, the labyrinth had trembled from movements far beneath the earth and sea. Some
said that earth-shaker Poseidon was wrathful--Others said nothing. In any case, the Soldier felt
growing tremors under him shaking even the bulk of the Minotaur on top of him. In his misery and
triumph, the no-plan was now very clear in his mind, shining with a white light. All need of concealment
was now past and he knew he was not yet finished.
With great effort, he struggled with the weight of the Minotaur until he got him in a composed
reclining position on the sleeping couch. He straightened his hair and made him beautiful. The earth
tremors were growing more urgent.
The Soldier then took the leather bag and remembered how it came to him. He was boarding the
galley leaving the city of the Great Goddess on the first part of his journey to Knossos. A boy stepped
up to him and handed him the bag and said, "This is for you, Sir. She said tell you that you would want
it at the end." The Soldier said, "Did she say anything else?" The boy replied, "No, Sir." And that was
The Soldier broke the seal of the Treasury of the Temple of Athena Parthenos and drew out a long,
very soft and fine grey rope. Not knowing what it was for at first, and then knowing, he tightly bound
himself in the way he knew would be pleasing to the Minotaur, knotted it and wrapped the other end of
the rope in the Minotaur's great hand.
He then withdrew the only other objects in the bag, two victor's crowns of laurel, interwoven with the
fatal flowers of death. He gently placed one of the crowns on the Minotaur's head and the other on
his own head. Tears were now flowing fast from his eyes and he bent and kissed the Minotaur on the
mouth. As he did so, he noticed that his tears fell into the pools of blood on the Minotaur's chest,
making them dissolve and run into strange patterns, which seemed to tell a story, but he did not know
what it was.
The earth was shaking more violently now and echoing rumbles and gases were rising from the depths
of the Labyrinth. The fate and end of which the Goddess spoke, for which he had apparently been
born, was now near its fulfillment. The Soldier composed himself, lay down beside the Minotaur and,
with the same dagger with which he had pierced his heart, opened his own veins. As the life was
flowing out of him, he noticed what had not been there before. On the wall of the Minotaur's chamber
was a new fresco, gorgeously done, and it was of the Soldier himself.
He could not have described his
feelings then, but even in the midst
of his flowing tears and misery was
also a great joy....And his last thought
as the light passed from his eyes was:
THE MINOTAUR VICTOR
AND I, THE SOLDIER, VICTOR
AND LOVE THE GREAT VICTOR
Through want and joy we have
walked hand in hand;
we are both resting from our travels
now, in the quiet countryside.
Around us the valleys fold up,
already the air grows dark,
only two larks still soar
wistfully into into the balmy sky.
Come here, and let them fly about;
soon it is time for sleep.
We must not go astray
in this solitude.
O spacious, tranquil peace,
so profound in the gloaming
How tired we are of travelling--
Is this perchance death?
Richard Strauss--Four Last Songs