Notes on Greek Mythology
Theseus /ˈθiːsiːəs/ (Greek: Θησεύς Greek: [tʰɛːsěu̯s]) was the mythical founder-king of Athens, son of Aegeus and Poseidon, both of whom Aethra had slept with in one night Theseus was the Athenian founding hero, considered by them as their own great reformer: his name comes from the same root as θεσμός ("thesmos"), Greek for "institution".
He was responsible for the synoikismos ("dwelling together") — the political unification ofAttica under AthensBecause he was the unifying king, Theseus built and occupied a palace on the fortress of the Acropolis
The mix gave Theseus a combination of divine as well as mortal characteristics in his nature; such double fathers, one immortal and one mortal, was a familiar feature of Greek heroes. After Aethra became pregnant, Aegeus decided to return to Athens. Before leaving, however, he buried his sandals and sword under a huge rock and told Aethra that when their son grew up, he should move the rock, if he were heroic enough, and take the tokens for himself as evidence of his royal parentageWhen Theseus grew up and became a brave young man, he moved the rock and recovered his father's tokens. His mother then told him the truth about his father's identity and that he must take the sword and sandals back to king Aegeus to claim To journey to Athens, Theseus could choose to go by sea (which was the safe way) or by land, following a dangerous path around the Saronic Gulf, where he would encounter a string of six entrances to theUnderworld, each guarded by a chthonic enemy. Young, brave, and ambitious, Theseus decided to go alone by the land route and defeated a great many bandits along the way. his birthright. Six Entrances of the Underworld 1Theseus turned the tables on the chthonic bandit, the "clubber" Periphetes, who beat his opponents into the Earth, and took from him the stout staff that often identifies Theseus in vase-paintings. At the time, Theseus was called the Mother Dog for many reasons.2
e Isthmian entrance to the Underworld was a robber named Sinis, often called "Pityokamptes" (Greek: Πιτυοκάμπτης, "he who bends Pinetrees"). He would capture travelers, tie them between two pine trees that were bent down to the ground, and then let the trees go, tearing his victims apart. Theseus killed him by his own metho 3 north of the Isthmus, at a place called Crommyon, he killed an enormous pig, the Crommyonian Sow, bred by an old crone named Phaea 4 Megara, an elderly robber named Sciron forced travellers along the narrow cliff-face pathway to wash his feet. While they knelt, he kicked them off the cliff behind them, where they were eaten by a sea monster (or, in some versions, a giant turtle). Theseus pushed him off the cliff. 5 Cercyon, king at the holy site of Eleusis, who challenged passers-by to a wrestling match and, when he had beaten them, killed them. Theseus beat Cercyon at wrestling and then killed him instead. In interpretations of the story that follow the formulas of Frazer's The Golden Bough, Cercyon was a "year-King", who was required to do an annual battle for his life, for the good of his kingdom, and was succeeded by the victor. Theseus overturned this archaic religious rite by refusing to be sacrificed. 6 Procrustes the Stretcher, who had two beds, one of which he offered to passers-by in the plain of Eleusis. He then made them fit into it, either by stretching them or by cutting off their feet. Since he had two beds of different lengths, no one would fit. Theseus turned the tables on Procrustes, cutting off his legs and decapitating him with his own axe.
Medea and the Marathonian Bull,
Aegeus's wife Medearecognized Theseus immediately as Aegeus' son and worried that Theseus would be chosen as heir to Aegeus' kingdom instead of her son Medus.She tried to arrange to have Theseus killed by asking him to capture the Marathonian Bull, an emblem of Cretan power.
King Minos of Crete had waged war with the Athenians and was successful. He then demanded that, at nine-year intervals, seven Athenian boys and seven Athenian girls were to be sent to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull monster that lived in the Labyrinth created by Daedalus. Theseus overpowered the Minotaur with his strength and stabbed the beast in the throat with his sword (according to one scholium on Pindar's Fifth Nemean Ode, Theseus strangled it).After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to escape with all of the young Athenians
Theseus's best friend was Pirithous, prince of the Lapiths. Pirithous had heard stories of Theseus's courage and strength in battle but wanted proof, so he rustled Theseus's herd of cattle and drove it from Marathon, and Theseus set out in pursuit. Pirithous took up his arms and the pair met to do battle, but were so impressed with each other they took an oath of friendship and joined the hunt for the Calydonian Boar The centaurs were guests at the wedding feast, but got drunk and tried to abduct the women, including Hippodamia. The Lapiths won the ensuing battle.
Theseus carries off the willing Helen, on an Attic red-figure amphora, ca. 510 BCETheseus, a great abductor of women, and his bosom companion, Pirithous, since they were sons of Zeus and Poseidon, pledged themselves to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus, in an old tradition, chose Helen, and together they kidnapped her, intending to keep her until she was old enough to marry.
Hades. As they wandered through the outskirts of Tartarus, Theseus sat down to rest on a rock. As he did so he felt his limbs change and grow stiff. He tried to rise but could not. He was fixed to the rock on which he sat. Then, as he turned to cry out to his friend Pirithous, he saw that he himself was crying out too.
journeyed to the land of the Amazons, a race of all-female warriors who had sex with men for reproduction but killed or banished any male children born. Sensing no trouble or malice from Theseus, the Amazons decided to welcome him by having the queen Hippolyta go aboard his ship bearing gifts. After boarding the ship, Theseus left for Athens, claiming Hippolyta as his bride. This sparked a war between the Amazons and the Athenians. Hippolyta eventually bore a son for Theseus, whom they named Hippolytus (Ἱππόλυτος). Theseus lost his love for Hippolyta, however, after he had seen Phaedra. For many months in half darkness, Theseus sat immovably fixed to the rock, mourning both for his friend and for himself. In the end he was rescued by Heracles who had come down to the underworld for his 12th task. There he persuaded Persephone to forgive him for the part he had taken in the rash venture of Pirithous. So Theseus was restored to the upper air but Pirithous never left the kingdom of the dead, for when he tried to free Pirithous, the Underworld shook. When Theseus returned to Athens, he found that the Dioscuri had taken Helen and Aethra to Sparta.
Phaedra, Theseus's second wife, bore Theseus two sons, Demophon and Acamas. While these two were still in their infancy, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, Theseus's son by Hippolyta. According to some versions of the story, Hippolytus had scorned Aphrodite to become a devotee of Artemis, so Aphrodite made Phaedra fall in love with him as punishment. He rejected her out of chastity.
In middle age his wisdom deserted him. He began going on foolish adventures. He started making bad decisions. His efforts to produce an heir for the throne led to more problems. The people of Athens's grew tired on the turmoil he produced. Ultimately, he died in exile from Athens's. The city did not bother to bring his body home. Generations pasted without much thought being given to Theseus. Then during the Persian wars Athenian solders reported seeing the ghost of Theseus and came to believe him responsible for their victories. The Athenian general Cimon received a command from the Oracle at Delphi to find Theseus's bones and return them to Athens. This he did and he was reburied in a magnificent tomb that also served as a sanctuary for the defenseless.