In ancient Crete, King Minos had demanded that seven Athenian youths and seven maidens be sacrificed each year to the Minotaur, a monster with a bull's head. Posing as one of the youths, the Athenian hero Theseus managed to reach the Minotaur in his labyrinth and, with a sword provided by Minos's daughter, Ariadne, he prepares to kill the creature. This sculpture was one of five works that Barye submitted to the 1843 Salon, only to have them all rejected. Subsequently, it was listed in the catalogue issued by the firm of Besse et Cie in 1844 as "one of the most beautiful works, one of the most energetic figures that modern sculpture has produced." No other work reflects Barye's neoclassical training as vividly as Theseus and the Minotaur. Even the arrangement of the hero's hair is borrowed directly from a recently discovered Greek statue in the Louvre: the Apollo di Piombino.