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Son of Aethra (mom) and Aegeus (mortal dad) / Poseidon

Aegeus buried a sword and sandals under a boulder for Theseus when he came of age
so he could claim his rightful kingship.

Theseus was raised by his mother and grandfather (Pittheus).

When he came of age, Aethra led him to the boulder which he lifted with the aid of a

Began to travel to Athens; His mother urged the safer route by sea instead of the
dangerous overland route.

He preferred to take the over land route, so he might be able to emulate the deeds of
his cousin, Hercules.
Labors of Theseus
On the journey to Athens, Theseus encountered six tasks…
1. Periphetes – Periphetes was called “club man” due to how he
attacked travelers and bashed their skulls in with an iron
bound club.
1. Theseus met him and bashed his skull with the club, taking it as his own.
2. Sinis – Sinis preferred to ambush travelers by having them
assist him in setting tree snares. The travelers who helped
wound up being caught in the snare and flung by the trees.
1. Theseus caught Sinis in his own snare
3. Crommyonian Sow -- a giant monster pig named Phaea
1. Theseus killed the sow.
Labors of Theseus
4. Sciron – Sciron would kick travelers off a cliff to be devoured
by a giant turtle after he asked them for the hospitality of
washing his feet.
1. Theseus kicked him off the cliff and he was eaten by the turtle.
5. Cercyon -- Cercyon challenged travelers to a wrestling match,
which if they lost were killed.
1. Theseus wrestled him and killed them.
6. Procrustes – Procrustes owned an inn where travelers could
rest. In his in there was only one bed for the travelers to use. He
would make the traveler fit the bed, either stretching or cutting
them to fit.
1. Theseus made Procrustes fit the bed.
Theseus arrives in Athens, and is recognized by his father…

Aegeus was married to Medea, a sorceress. She recognized Theseus first … and
plots to kill him…

Aegeus sends Theseus first to kill a bull, Marathonian Bull

Theseus captures the bull and drives it through the streets of Athens, and
sacrifices it to Apollo.
Medea then decides to poison Theseus at a banquet in his honor…

At the banquet, Theseus used the sword, left by his father, to cut the meat…
Aegeus instantly recognized the sword and just as Theseus was going to drink
Medea’s poison, knocked the cup out of his hands.
Prince Theseus
At last Theseus arrived in Athens to meet his father King Aegeus
Theseus did not reveal his identity at first but was hailed as a hero by the
In honor of his exploits, he was invited to the palace for a banquet.
The hostess was his father's new wife, Medea.
She decided that he was a threat to her own son's prospects of ruling
Athens after King Aegeus.
Medea was a sorceress and knew the true identity of Theseus.
Medea plays on Aegeus’ fear – This stranger was too popular with the people
and will overthrow the throne.
She persuades Aegeus to serve Theseus poisoned wine at the banquet.
Before Theseus drinks he draws his sword to carve the boar.
Aegeus recognizes the sword and throws the poisoned wine to the ground.
In disgust Medea flees in her chariot pulled by dragons.
Theseus is now the recognized heir to Athens.

Theseus is witness to the arrival of king Minos to collect his tribute of

fourteen Athenians (seven boys and seven girls) to feed to his minotaur.

The tribute was demanded due to the murder of king Minos’ son

The minotaur was a creature born to Minos’ cursed wife Pasiphae whose
head was that of a bull, with the body of a man.
Theseus vs. the Minotaur
Theseus volunteers to be one of the tributes.
Sets sail to Crete with a black sail, promising his father to
change the sail to white if he is successful.
On the journey, Theseus defends the honor of one of the
Athenian women,
his duty as a son of Posiedon. Minos throws his ring
overboard to make Theseus prove his parentage.
Upon arrival Ariadne, the daughter of Minos falls in love with
She give him a clew to navigate the Labyrinth, the lair of the
A clew is a ball of thread.
She makes Theseus promise that he will take her from Crete if
he is successful.
Theseus follows the directions given to him by Ariadne and finds the
Minotaur sleeping.
With all of his strength, Theseus stabbed the creature in the throat with
his sword (hidden in his tunic …); One tale has Theseus strangling the
Minotaur to death.
Then Theseus follows the thread back to the entrance and escapes with
Ariadne, her sister (Phaedra, and all the Athenian prisoners.
They stayed the night on the island of Naxos.
In the morning, however, Theseus was gone having abandoned Ariadne
and Phaedra on the beach.
She is seen crying for Theseus by the god Dionysus, who rescues
On the return trip, Theseus forgot to change the sails of the boat.
Aegeus, waiting for his son’s return, sees the black sails and throws
himself in to the sea.
This sea is named after Aegeus …
The Aegean Sea.
Further adventures of Theseus
Joins Hercules on quest to fight the Amazons
‘marries’ Antiope and has son – Hippolytus
Joins with Peirithous to fight the centaurs.
The centaurs were attempting to steal Peirithous’ wife and the other
Peirithous and Theseus decide that they want wives who were daughters
of Zeus.
Theseus chooses Helen of Sparta – kidnaps her, but she is rescued by
her brothers, Castor and Pollux (Gemini)
Peirithous chooses Persephone … who is married to Hades. Hades
invites them into his palace … offers them a seat, from which they cannot
get up. Hercules rescues Theseus.
Theseus dies on the island of Scyrus, pushed off a cliff by a local king,
Theseus Quiz
1. Theseus is said to have two fathers, the mortal Aegeus and the immortal
2. What two tokens were left by his father under the rock, so he could identify
his son?
3. To where was Theseus travelling when he performed his six labors?
4. Who attempted to kill Theseus when he arrived in Athens?
5. What was the punishment inflicted by king Minos for the death of his son?
6. Describe the Minotaur.
7. Who aided Theseus in Crete to complete his task?
8. What signal did Aegeus tell Theseus to deliver upon successful completion of
his task in Crete?
9. What story does the death of Aegeus explain?
10. Whom did Dionysus rescue from Naxos after being abandoned by Theseus?