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Theseus. Treena , Wesley, Shawn, Kyle, and Sai. The story. The Sword and Stone. Athenian king, Aegeus, leaves his son Theseus to grow up with his mother. Aegeus has left a sword and pair of shoes under a great stone.

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Treena, Wesley, Shawn,

Kyle, and Sai

The sword and stone
The Sword and Stone

  • Athenian king, Aegeus, leaves his son Theseus to grow up with his mother.

  • Aegeus has left a sword and pair of shoes under a great stone.

  • When Theseus gets strong enough to move the rock, he is sent to Athens to find his father.

The road to athens
The Road to Athens

  • The road to Athens was dangerous and full of bandits who torture other travelers.

  • Theseus kills the bandits the same way the bandits kill their targets.

  • “His idea of dealing justice was simple, but effective: what each had done to others, Theseus did to him.”

Arrival in athens
Arrival in Athens

  • When Theseus arrives in Athens, Medea convinces the King to poison him.

  • Suddenly, King Aegeus sees the sword and recognizes his son.

  • Medea flees to Asia.

  • Aegeus proclaims Theseus his son and heir.

The minotaur
The Minotaur

  • Years before Theseus’s arrival in Athens, King Minos of Crete lost his only son, Androgeus, when the boy was visiting Athens. Androgeus was accidently killed when he was staying at Aegeus’s house.

  • King Minos angrily raided Athens and declared that as punishment for killing his son, every 9 years the Athenians had to send 7 girls and 7 boys to be devoured in the Labyrinth of the Minotaur.

The minotaur1
The Minotaur

  • The Minotaur, half bull, half human, was the offspring of Minos’s wife Pasiphae and a bull. Poseidon had given Minos the bull to sacrifice but Minos became attached to the bull and kept it. As punishment, Poseidon made Pasiphae fall in love with the bull, which then created the Minotaur.

  • The Minotaur was confined in a Labyrinth that was nearly impossible to escape.

The tribute
The Tribute

  • Theseus offers to be one of the victims. He promises his father that if he survives, he will replace his ship’s black sail with a white one when he returns. This way, Aegeus will know if Theseus survived.

Ariadne s help and reward
Ariadne’s Help and Reward

  • King Minos’s daughter, Ariadne, falls in love with Theseus.

  • She offers him a way to escape the Labyrinth if he promises to take her to Athens and marry her afterwards.

  • Ariadne gives Theseus a ball of thread that he unwinds in order to find his way back.

  • Theseus finds the Minotaur asleep and beats it to death with his bare hands.

The return to athens
The return to Athens

  • Theseus and Ariadne sail to Athens.

  • On the way there they stop at the Island of Naxos. What happens then is differently reported.

  • One story says that Theseus abandons Ariadne.

  • The other story favors Theseus. It states that because Ariadne becomes seasick, Theseus sets her on the island to recover. But when he returns to the ship to do work, a strong wind takes him out to sea. When Theseus comes back for Ariadne, he finds her dead.

The return to athens1
The return to Athens

  • When he draws near to Athens, Theseus forgets to lower the black sail and to raise the white one.

  • Aegeus sees the black sail. Thinking his son has died, he jumps into the sea and is killed. The sea is thereafter named the Aegean sea.

Theseus s rule
Theseus’s Rule

  • Theseus then becomes king, making Athens a democracy. 

  • He creates a commonwealth and allows the citizens to vote.

  • The only office he keeps for himself is the Commander in Chief.

  • Athens becomes the world’s happiest and most prosperous city.

The perfect knight
The Perfect Knight

  • In the Great War of the Seven against Thebes, the victorious Thebans refuse to allow the defeated to bury their dead.

  • Theseus helps the Argives by leading his army against Thebes and forcing them to allow the burials.

  • But when Theseus wins, he does not return the evil to the Thebans for the evil they have done. “He showed himself the perfect knight.” He does not allow his army to loot the city because he has not come to harm the Thebes, but to help the Argives bury their dead.

Other adventures
Other Adventures

  • Theseus has a love for danger so he goes to the country of the Amazons to fight. He marries their queen Hippolyta who has his son Hippolytus.

  • He sails on the Argo to find the Golden Fleece.

  • He takes part in the great Calydonian Hunt to kill a terrible boar. During the hunt Theseus saves the life of his good friend Pirithous.

Pirithous and the underworld
Pirithous and the Underworld

  • After the death of his bride, Pirithous decides that his second wife would be the most guarded lady in the universe, Persephone, who was abducted by Hades. Theseus agrees to help him.

  • Pirithous and Theseus decide that first they would carry off Helen, then a child, and when she was grown Pirithous would marry her.

  • Theseus succeeds in kidnapping the child but her two brothers take her back. Luckily for him, they did not find Theseus. He was on his way to the underworld with Pirithous.

Pirithous and the underworld1
Pirithous and the Underworld

  • The Lord of Hades was aware of their intention and invited them as a “friendly gesture” to sit in his presence.

  • They sat on the seat he pointed them to – and there they were trapped.It was called the Chair of Forgetfulness because whoever sat on it forgot everything.

  • Theseus was freed by his cousin Hercules but Pirithous stayed there forever. Hercules tried to save Pirithous too but Hades knew that it was he who planned to take Persephone, and held him there.

Phaedra and hippolytus
Phaedra and Hippolytus

  • Later in his life, Theseus marries Ariadne’s sister Phaedra.

  • Phaedra soon falls in love with her stepson Hippolytus, but Hippolytus takes no notice of her and rejects her.

  • Phaedra commits suicide and leaves a note accusing Hippolytus of rape.

  • Theseus curses and exiles the innocent Hippolytus. As Hippolytus leaves, he is killed by a monster.

  • Artemis, a goddess who was watching over them, then reveals that Hippolytus in fact did not rape Phaedra and that Phaedra was unfaithful and lied. Theseus learns the truth, but it was too late.

The death of theseus
The Death of Theseus

  • Theseus was at the court of his friend, King Lycomedes. Some say Theseus had gone there because Athens had banished him.

  • The King, his friend and host, killed him. We are not told why.

  • Even if the Athenians banished him, they soon honored him greatly. They built a large tomb for him and declared that it should be a sanctuary for slaves and all poor helpless people. It was built in memory of the protector of the defenseless, Theseus.

Heroic Qualities


Loves danger. He puts him self in risky situations just for the thrill

Hubris – thinks he is strong enough to take on anything.

Acts on impulse

  • He puts others before himself

  • Kind leader

  • Physically strong

  • Always supports his friends

  • Faces challenges with wisdom, knowledge, compassion, and bravery. This was ideal for the Greeks.

  • Protects the defenseless

  • Does not seek revenge

  • “His idea of dealing justice was simple, but effective: what each had done to others, Theseus did to him.”

Motifs and themes
Motifs and Themes

  • Guilt and Redemption – Theseus is burdened with terrible guilt when he learns that his son Hippolytus died because of his unnecessary doubts.

  • What Goes Around Comes Around – Theseus punishes the bandits the same way the bandits harm travelers

Unfaithful wife phaedra
Unfaithful Wife - Phaedra

She was Theseus’s wife, but she fell in love with her stepson Hippolytus.

Villain king minos and the minotaur
Villain – King Minos and The Minotaur

King Minos forced Athens to send 7 boys and 7 girls to the Minotaur’s Labyrinth.

Trickster medea
Trickster - Medea

Tried to trick King Aegeus into poising Theseus.

Damsel in distress ariadne
Damsel in Distress - Ariadne

In one version of the story, Ariadne was sick and trapped on an island. Theseus came to her rescue but found her dead.

Island island of naxos
Island – Island of Naxos

Represents isolation. Ariadne was trapped or abandoned on the island by herself.

Sea aegean sea
Sea – Aegean Sea

Often represents danger and chaos. This was where King Aegeus killed himself.

Hell underworld
Hell - Underworld

Contains a diabolical force – Lord of Hades.

The task
The Task

Theseus had to save Athens and kill the Minotaur.

Story summation
Story Summation

What did Theseus learn?

  • Theseus learns that he should not judge a situation before he is aware of the whole story. He learns this after he curses and exiles his innocent son.

  • He learns that he should not always trust the ones he holds dear. He realizes this as he learns that his wife Phaedra had been unfaithful and had framed his son, Hippolytus.

Lessons and cultural values
Lessons and Cultural Values

  • Good character brings prosperity.

  • Value others before yourself.

  • You cannot always trust the ones you love.

  • As a king, Theseus wanted all people to take responsibility of Athens. Because of this, he made Athens a thriving democracy, impacting governments in Greece and eventually around the world.

  • Theseus did not seek revenge against the Thebes. This shows his character as well as his army’s, his city’s, and his country’s characters. These people are forgiving, accepting, and peaceful.