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Theseus. The Great Athenian Hero. He was the son of Athenian King, Aegeus. He spent his youth in his mother’s homeland in southern Greece. Aegeus left for Greece before his son was born. The test….

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The Great Athenian Hero


He was the son of Athenian King, Aegeus.

  • He spent his youth in his mother’s homeland in southern Greece.
  • Aegeus left for Greece before his son was born.
the test
The test…
  • Aegeus placed a sword and a pair of shoes in a hollow and covered them with a large rock. He told his wife that whenever the boy grew strong enough to roll the stone away and get the things, she could send him to Athens to claim him as his father.
  • A daughter would not have had this option.

Theseus was strong, and he wanted to become a great hero like his cousin, Heracles (Hercules).

  • He always avoided the “easy way,” and refused to use his grandfather’s ship to seek his father.

He had to travel a long road which was plagued by bandits. He killed them all.

  • His idea of justice was simple: what each had done to others, Theseus did to them.
some people who theseus took care of
Some people who Theseus “took care” of
  • Sciron made those he captured kneel to wash his feet then he kicked them into the sea. Theseus hurled him off a precipice.

Sinis killed people by fastening them to two pine trees bent to the ground then letting the trees go.

  • Theseus killed him the same way.

Procrustes placed victims on an iron bed, tied them to it, then made them fit it by either chopping off whatever made them too long or stretching them to make them longer.

  • By some method, Procrustes met his end at Theseus’s hands.

When Theseus reached Athens he was invited to a banquet by the King because Theseus was an acknowledged hero.

  • The king did not know Theseus was his son, so he planned to poison him to eliminate some competition. This was Medea’s idea.

As Medea handed the poisoned cup to Theseus, he pulled out his sword, his father recognized it, the king knocked the cup to the ground, and Medea ran away to Asia.

(She already knew Theseus was the King’s son, she just didn’t bother to tell the King.)

the back story
The back story…
  • Many years ago the son of the ruler of Crete, King Minos, died while visiting the Athenian King.
  • Prince Androgeus went on a dangerous expedition to kill a dangerous bull.
  • Minos invaded Athens and required a tribute of seven youths and seven maidens every nine years. They were going to be Minotaur snacks.
more back story
More back story…
  • The Minotaur was half man and half bull. He was the offspring of Minos’ wife Pasiphae and a wonderfully handsome bull.
  • Poseidon gave Minos a bull to sacrifice to him, but Minos couldn’t bear to sacrifice it so he kept it for himself.

To punish him for disobeying him, Poseidon made Pasiphae fall madly in love with the bull.

  • Can you say, “YUCK!”

When the Minotaur was born, (again, “YUCK!”) Minos did not kill him.

  • King Minos had Daedalus, the great architect and inventor, construct the Labyrinth. This is where the tributes were sent every nine years.

Of course, Theseus volunteered to be one of the tributes.

  • Everybody thought this was a brave thing to do.
  • Everybody did not know Theseus intended to kill the Minotaur.

Theseus promised his father that, upon his return, he would hoist a white sail instead of the black sail the tribute ship usually flew.

  • His father looked for the white sail daily.
thesesus arrival
Thesesus’ arrival

As soon as Theseus arrived in Crete, he and the other young Athenians were marched into the Labyrinth.

King Minos’s daughter, Ariadne, took one look at Theseus and fell in LOVE.

She went to Daedalus and asked him to help her get Theseus safely through the Labyrinth.

the promise
The promise…
  • Ariadne went to Theseus and promised to help him ecape if he would only promise to take her to Athens and make her his wife.
  • He said, “Yes.”
the big but
The big “but”
  • He left her on the island of Naxos for some reason.
  • She was heartbroken. She did eventually find love, though. She married Dionysus.
  • Theseus forgot to change the sail from black to white. His father saw the black sail on the horizon and threw himself off a cliff into the sea.
  • The Aegean Sea is named in honor of Aegeus.
now that theseus is king
Now that theseus is king
  • He decided he would prefer a people’s government where all citizens are equal. He turned Athens into a commonwealth, and all villages in the territory became part of the Athenian state.
  • Theseus was the commander-in-chief.
  • Athens prospered under his leadership.
he marries
He marries
  • He attacks the Amazons and marries their queen.
  • They had a son named Hippolytus.
  • Amazons invaded Athens, but were unsuccessful. No one else invaded as long as Theseus lived.
  • Son of the Aegeus-King of Thebes
  • Rock test
  • Bandits and Minotaur
  • Pasiphae/Crete
  • Daedalus/Labyrinth
  • Sails
  • Amazon wife
  • Ariadne