Actions

::Theseus

::concepts

Theseus::athens    Aegeus::minotaur    Phaedra::ariadne    Plutarch::which    Category::would    Thumb::their

{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}} {{#invoke:Sidebar|sidebar}}

Theseus Slaying Minotaur (1843), bronze sculpture by Antoine-Louis Barye

Theseus ({{#invoke:IPAc-en|main}}; Ancient Greek: Θησεύς{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} [tʰɛːsěu̯s]) was the mythical<ref>For the ancient Greeks, convinced that Theseus had actually existed, he was not mythic, of course, but legendary.</ref> king of Athens and was the son of Aethra by two fathers: Aegeus and Poseidon.

Theseus was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles (Hercules), all of whom battled and overcame foes that were identified with an archaic religious and social order.<ref>See Carl A.P. Ruck and Danny Staples, The World of Classical Myth (Carolina Academic Press, 1994), ch. ix "Theseus:Making the New Athens" pp 203–22: "This was a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules" (p. 204).</ref> As Heracles was the Dorian hero, Theseus was a founding hero, considered by Athenians as their own great reformer: his name comes from the same root as θεσμός{{#invoke:Category handler|main}} ("thesmos"), Greek for "The Gathering". The myths surrounding Theseus—his journeys, exploits, and family—have provided material for fiction throughout the ages.

Theseus was responsible for the synoikismos ("dwelling together")—the political unification of Attica under Athens, represented emblematically in his journey of labours, subduing ogres and monstrous beasts. Because he was the unifying king, Theseus built and occupied a palace on the fortress of the Acropolis that may have been similar to the palace that was excavated in Mycenae. Pausanias reports that after the synoikismos, Theseus established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos ("Aphrodite of all the People") and Peitho on the southern slope of the Acropolis.

Plutarch's vita (a literalistic biography) of Theseus makes use of varying accounts of the death of the Minotaur, Theseus' escape, and the love of Ariadne for Theseus.<ref>"May I therefore succeed in purifying Fable, making her submit to reason and take on the semblance of History. But where she obstinately disdains to make herself credible, and refuses to admit any element of probability, I shall pray for kindly readers, and such as receive with indulgence the tales of antiquity." (Plutarch, Life of Theseus). Plutarch's avowed purpose is to construct a life that parallels the vita of Romulus that embodies the founding myth of Rome.</ref> Plutarch's sources, not all of whose texts have survived independently, included Pherecydes (mid-fifth century BC), Demon (c. 400 BC), Philochorus, and Cleidemus (both fourth century BC).<ref>Edmund P. Cueva, "Plutarch's Ariadne in Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe" American Journal of Philology 117.3 (Fall 1996) pp. 473–484.</ref>


Theseus sections
Intro  Birth and early years  Medea and the Marathonian Bull, Androgeus and the Pallantides  The myth of Theseus and the Minotaur  Ship of Theseus  Theseus and Pirithous  Phaedra and Hippolytus  Other stories and his death  Adaptations of the myth  Atlantis  Notes   External links   

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Birth and early years
<<>>