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Aegeus and Aethra were the parents of Theseus. Aegeus was given this oracle at Delphi:
“Do not open the mouth of your wineskin until you return home to Athens.”
Aegeus’ brother, Pallas, had 50 sons; he had none.
Theseus’ grandfather was Pittheus, king of Troezen.
Poseidon was the reputed immortal father of Theseus.
Troezen was the birthplace of Theseus. Heracles was his cousin.
As a young man Theseus lifted a boulder to find a sword and pair of sandals.
Theseus purged the highway between Troezen and Athens of numerous crooks:
He killed Periphetes (Corynetes, club man), son of Hephaestus (or Poseidon), with a club.
Theseus carried the club with him ever afterwards, a sign of his strength in battle.
He killed Sinis (Pityocamptes) by using pine trees.
He killed the man-eating Crommyonian sow the offspring of Typhon. (named Phaea from
the old woman who fed it)
He killed Sciron (limestone) by kicking him off a cliff and a turtle ate him. (Sceiron)
He killed King Cercyon by wrestling him to the death.
He killed Procrustes (Damastes, Procoptes, Polypemon—subduer, slicer, troubler)—by
using a bed, saw and hammer. (N.B.procrustean—distorting, in order to suit the purposes of
the person using it: i.e. a procrustean argument; arbitrarily achieving conformity.
After Theseus returned to Athens to claim his birthright, Medea, Aegeus’ wife, tried to
poison Theseus to assure her own son, Medus, the throne.
Why Athens was forced to send 14 youths to Knossos (Cnossos), Crete every nine (or one)
years to be sacrificed:
Androgeos, the son of Minos, the king of Crete, was killed (gored by the bull of Marathon,
the same bull which Heracles had brought from Crete for King Eurystheus) while in Athens
and the Athenians were forced to pay a tribute of 14 youths to Crete to avoid war.
These 14 youths, seven boys and seven females, were enclosed in a prison (maze) called the
Labyrinth (the house of the double axe). The Labyrinth had been devised by the great
inventor Daedalus, to house a horrible monster, half man, half bull, named Asterius but
called the Minotaur. This monster was the offspring of Queen Pasiphae (daughter of the
Titan Helius and wife of Minos), and a bull (sent by Poseidon for sacrifice.. The crafty
Daedalus had constructed a wooden cow to enable Pasiphae to quench her passion for the
Theseus, as one of the 14, traveled to Crete and with the help of Ariadne, Minos’ daughter
(she gave him a ball of thread to aide his escape from the Labyrinth) killed the Minotaur
with his bare hands.
Theseus takes Ariadne with him when he leaves Crete but abandons her on the island of
Naxos (Dia). Later Bacchus married the abandoned Ariadne and gave her a crown of stars
for a wedding gift.
Theseus forgot to change the sails from black to white on the return voyage to Athens.
When Aegeus saw the black sails from afar, he leapt into the sea which was henceforth called
the Aegean Sea.
Theseus transformed the Athenian government from a monarchy to a democracy.
Other important information on Theseus, not in any specific order:
Theseus accepted Oedipus when all others turned him away.
Theseus convinced Heracles not to commit suicide after he had murdered his wife and
Theseus was among the Argonauts. He also participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt.
Theseus joined Heracles in his expedition against the Amazons.
Antiope (Hippolyta), the Queen of the Amazons, and Theseus were the parents of
The Amazons later attacked Athens (Antiope was killed). This battle was depicted:
On the metopes of the Parthenon
On the shield of Athena Parthenos (by Phidias)
On the pedestal on the statue of Zeus at Olympia
Pirithous was the king of the Lapiths and the best friend of Theseus.
The Centaurs disrupted the wedding of Pirithous and Hippodamia and Theseus helped to
drive them away.
Theseus kidnapped Helen when she was only a child to be his bride.
The Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux, rescued her. The Dioscuri were called Anakes or
Anaktes in Athens.
Pirithous and Theseus kidnapped Persephone to be the bride of Pirithous. When in the
Underworld they were trapped in the chairs of forgetfulness. Hercules rescued Theseus
from the chair of forgetfulness. Pirithous remained forever.
Theseus married Phaedra (bright), the sister of Ariadne. Phaedra fell in love with Theseus’
son Hippolytus and tried to seduce him. She failed and committed suicide. Phaedra left a
suicide note accusing Hippolytus of making advances toward her. Theseus exiled Hippolytus
and asked Poseidon to avenge his crime. Poseidon caused Hippolytus’ chariot to wreck
and when his body was returned to Athens, before he died, Theseus learned the truth.
Asclepius brought Hippolytus back to life. In Italy Hippolytus was worshipped as
Theseus was responsible for the “synoecism” of Attica (union of different villages into one
political unit).
Theseus refounded the Isthmian Games. (originally for Melicertes)
Theseus caught and killed the bull of Marathon. He was called a second Heracles.
Demophon and Acamas were the children of Theseus and Phaedra.
Demophon loved Phyllis but left her, swearing to return. Tired of waiting, she hanged
herself and was turned into an almond tree.
Minos was the son of Zeus ( white bull) and Europa. His brothers were: Rhadamanthys and
Sarpedon. Rhadamanthys and Minos became judges in the Underworld after their deaths.
Theseus was murdered by king Lycomedes on the island of Scyros.