Theseus

Greek - King of Athens. Son of Poseidon by Aethra. Husband of Antiope and Phaedra. Father of Demophoon or Hippolytus. By Antiope. Father of Acamas and Demophoon. By Phaedra, some say. Father of Melanippus by Perigune. Theseus was the son of Poseidon by Aethra but accepted by Aegeus as his own son since he had slept with Aethra on the same night as Poseidon. He was tutored by Connidas and, at sixteen, recovered the sword and sandals hidden by Aegeus behind a rock and set off to Athens to meet his father, performing various labours in imitation of Heracles en route. He killed a number of outlaws including the crippled Periphetes with his own club which he then kept for himself; then Sinis, by tying him to two trees which tore him apart when released from the bent position - just as he had killed many a wayfarer - and Sciron by hurling him into the sea. He killed Cercyon by smashing him to earth and took over his kingdom of Eleusis and he killed Procrustes in the same way he had killed so many others - by 'adjusting his length to fit his bed'. He also killed the Crommyonian sow which had been terrorising the locals and found time to father Melanippus on Perigune. Some say he was one of the Argonauts and a member of the party hunting the Calydonian boar. Aegeus, now king of Athens, had married the sorceress Medea and she tried to poison Theseus so that her son, Medus, might inherit the throne, but Aegeus recognised his son in time to prevent the tragedy and Medea fled the country. After being reunited with his father Theseus crushed the revolt by Pallas and his fifty sons and captured and killed Poseidon's white bull which had been brought to Greece from Crete by Heracles and was now known as the Marathonian Bull, sacrificing it to the gods. In this adventure, he was given hospitality by Hecate. The Athenians were still paying the tribute demanded by Minos and Theseus offered himself as one of those to be sacrificed to the Minotaur. When he arrived in Crete, Minos threw his ring into the sea and challenged Theseus to prove that he was a son of Poseidon by retrieving it from the sea-bed. With the help of the Nereids, Theseus recovered it easily. Using a ball of magic thread given to Minos' daughter Ariadne by Daedalus, he entered the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur and was able to escape from the maze. He left Crete accompanied by Ariadne but soon abandoned her on Naxos. Or did he? In some versions, he put her ashore because she was seasick and returned to his ship to work on it. A storm blew him offshore and delayed his return. When he did get back, Ariadne was gone and he was told she had died. Another story has it that he saw the arrival of the ship of Dionysus, who rescued Ariadne, and was frightened off. He went to the country of the Amazons either as part of Heracles' expedition or with Peirithous and came away with their queen, called Antiope or Hippolyta and fathered Demophoon or Hippolytus on her. In the first story, he was given the queen as his prize, in the second he abducted her when she came voluntarily aboard his ship. The Amazons invaded Greece in an effort to recover their queen but were defeated. In some stories he married the Amazon queen and married Phaedra after her death but others say that he married Phaedra and, at that wedding, Antiope (or Hippolyta) broke in and would have killed those present had not Theseus killed her. Aphrodite caused Phaedra to fall in love with Hippolytus who rejected her advances. She then falsely accused him of rape and hanged herself, whereupon Theseus invoked the help of his father Poseidon to kill his son to avenge her death. When the survivors of the defeat of the Seven Against Thebes encounter sought his help, Theseus led a force against Creon, defeated him and recovered the bodies of the dead for the decent burial that Creon had refused. With the help of Peirithous he abducted Helen and won when they drew lots for her. In compensation, he went with his friend to Tartarus and demanded Persephone as a bride for Peirithous. Trapped by Hades in the Chair of Forgetfulness, he spent four years in torment before being rescued by Heracles. He found, on his return to Athens, that Menestheus had been installed in his place by Castor and Pollux who had invaded and rescued their sister Helen and that there was much disorder. He left for Crete but landed on the island of Scyros where he was killed by Lycomedes, the king of that island, who pushed Theseus over a cliff and pretended that it had been an accident. Later stories say that Theseus returned from the dead to help the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon. Occasionally known as Theseus.
Greek - A duke of Thebes in Chaucer's Knight's Tale. Husband of Ypolita. Father of Emily. He offered his daughter's hand to the winner of a contest which was won by Arcites who was killed en route to claim his bride. She married his cousin, Palamon, instead. In some accounts, Emily is Ypolita's sister. Occasionally identified as Theseus.

Nearby Myths