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King of Athens and magnificent hero of a thousand exploits

He is best buddies with HERACLES and all-round Greek top guy. His very name became a byword and advertising slogan: 'Nothing Without Theseus!'

The son of Aethra and Aegeus, his mother was a one night fling with King Aegeus, including drink and POSEIDON on the holiday visiting list. So when THESEUS was born in Troezen his mum was a single parent. When he was old enough to ask questions his mother told him the answer lay under a rock when he was big enough to lift it. It took him to the age of 16. And underneath was a pair of sandals and a sword belonging to his unknown father.

The boy decided to pay his father a visit when his mother finally admitted "He's the King of Athens". This was far enough away for the lad to have many breathtaking heroic adventures en route. By the time he reached Athens his heroic reputation had preceded him and he was invited to the palace for a feast. He wasn't too sure about the etiquette or if indeed the King was really his father.

The Queen however was MEDEA the witch. She knew THESEUS straight away and could sense competition with her own son Medi who she had in line as heir to the throne. So it was poison in the wine cup for the guest. The plot was foiled by a great gasp from the King who recognized as his own the sword THESEUS was wearing. "My Son!" he cried, and hugs of delight meant the wine went every which way but down. Very soon afterwards MEDEA took one of her hasty exits plus son.

The King was delighted with his new heir. There was naturally some opposition by other relatives with high hopes. Notably the fifty sons of King PALLAS(5). THESEUS had to wipe out the lot of them.

Then there was trouble with King MINOS and the MINOTAUR. The King fretted as THESEUS set off happily with a boatload of sacrificial victims to sort it all out. Which of course he did with the aid of ARIADNE and a ball of string. Amazing stuff.

There were slight oversights on his return; he left ARIADNE on a beach somewhere, and forgot the to change the tatty black sails of doom for the white sails of victory as pre-arranged, causing his dear old dad to leap into the sea with sorrow and not come up.

THESEUS, now King of Athens, found life a bit boring. He needed his fix of ripping yarn adventuring. He fought the Amazons and captured ANTIOPE and with her had a son called HIPPOLYTUS. But it was Phaedra, another daughter of King MINOS, that he married. Not a good choice — when THESEUS was away she tried to seduce her stepson causing troubles all round. HIPPOLYTUS was killed in a chariot crash, Phaedra hung herself and the Gods were most upset. Then ANTIOPE turned up with a bunch of Amazons to thrash THESEUS because of her son's death, and she got killed in the scrimmage.

It was all too much for THESEUS and he took off with some unsavory characters into kidnapping ventures. First they stole a young HELEN from Sparta then embarked on a crazy plan to abduct PERSEPHONE from HADES. They sweet-talked their way into the Underworld and HADES invited them to dine, but he was not fooled and the seating arrangements included the Stone Thrones of Forgetfulness. These hold you fast, and slowly you fuse into the very structure.

HERACLES on his visit to take CERBERUS for a walk came across them and attempted a rescue, but only THESEUS hobbled back into daylight minus portions of his legs.

Back in Athens no-one recognized the battered hero and he was sent on his way as a beggar. He ended up in Scyros and ARTEMIS arranged for him to be slung off a cliff because of the way he had treated ANTIOPE.

End of story? Not quite. His ghost came to help the Athenians against the Persians in 490 BC. After which his bones were found via an Oracle, together with the golden sword. These were brought back to Athens as protective symbols.

As they say, Nothing Without Theseus!

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Article last updated on 03 January 2013
Authors: Peter J Allen and Chas Saunders
References: Coming soon.

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Godchecker's article on Theseus is based on material from ancient texts, original references and our own research. We strive for accuracy and update regularly with new information. If you spot a mistake please contact us and we'll try to fix it.

Suggested further reading...
Location : Ancient Greece
Gender : Male
Type : Legendary Mortal
Celebration or Feast Day : Unknown at present
Pronunciation : Coming soon
Alternative names : None known
Popularity index : 1824

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