“Loose not the wine-skin’s jutting neck, good chief of the world, until you have returned to the civilization of Athens” (Plutarch, Life of Theseus 3.3). These cryptic words by the Delphic oracle left Aegeus, king of Athens, perplexed. Little did he realize that the oracle’s words intended that he should not father any kind of kids until he returned to Athens. Pittheus, king of Troezen, but, taken the message and also offered this opportunity to trick Aegeus right into resting through his daughter Aethra (Thes. 3.1-4). The union Aegeus and Aethra brought about the birth of Athens’ greatest hero, Theseus.

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Terracotta plaque via relief of Theseus via mom Aethra, lifting rock to uncover sandal and also sword left by his father.Roman, first century BCE – first century CE. From Cerveteri. London, British Museum. Photograph by Barbara McManus, 1999

Aegeus’ brother, Pallas, had many kind of sons and also Aegeus suspected they were plotting versus him on account of his childlessness. Aegeus, in fear of the sons of Pallas, kept his enrespond to through Aethra secret (Thes. 3.5). In case Aethra bore a kid, Aegeus left a pair of boots and also a sword under a rock as tokens of his noble birth. Theseus was increased by Aethra in Troezen; once he was old sufficient to move the stone, Theseus claimed the items which stood for his birthappropriate (Paus 1.27.8, Thes. 7.1, 4.1). However before, Theseus wanted his actions, not these tokens, to prove his nobility. He felt that taking an easy trip by watercraft to satisfy his father was actions suitable for a fugitive, so rather he set out on foot for Athens from Troezen, identified to wrong no one, but to punish violent men (Thes. 7.1). Alengthy the means, he precreated six labors emulating the high accomplishments of the great Hercules (Diodorus Siculus 4.59.1; Thes. 11.1).

While in Epidaurus Theseus first wrestled and slew Periphetes, the son of Hephaestus and Anticlia (APB 3.16.1). Periphetes was also well-known as Corynetes (Club Man) since he brought a huge club which he offered to kill passers-by (Diodorus 4.59.2). Theseus asserted this club, and carried it via him in a similar fashion as his precursor Hercules did via the skin of the Neintend Lion (Thes. 8.1).

At the Isthmus of Corinth Theseus killed Sinis, kid of Polypemon and Sylea (Library 3.16.2). Sinis bound his victim’s arms between 2 bent pine trees, and also then quickly released the pines; the resulting pressure brought about his victims to be torn asunder (Diodorus 4.59.3, Paus. 2.1.4). Sinis was slain by Theseus in this very same manner (Paus. 2.1.4).

Next Theseus eliminated Phaea the wild boar close to a village referred to as Crommyon in between the Isthmus of Corinth and Megarid (Library, Epitome 1.1). Theseus slew the sow so that he can be shelp to have risked his life in fight via the nobler beasts, instead of simply attacking villainous males out of self defense (Thes. 9.1).

At the Cliffs of Sciron (the Molourian rock), Theseus met none various other than Sciron himself. Sciron required passers-by to wash his feet and also then kicked his victims into the sea; a huge turtle would then seize them, resulting in their untimely demise (Thes. 10.1-3; Epitome 1.3). Theseus got hold of Sciron by the feet and also hurled him into the sea as punishment for his wicked deeds (Epitome 1.3).

In Eleusis Theseus slew Cercyon, son of Branchus and also the nymph Argiope (Epitome 1.3). Cercyon wrestled all the passers-by versus their will and also eliminated everyone he defeated; just Theseus was skilled sufficient to defeat Cercyon, and also he did so by increasing him high and also dashing him to the ground (Paus. 1.39.3).

Theseus’ final labor was to slay Procrustes, who is also recognized as Damastes or Polypemon (Epitome 1.4). Procrustes forced travelers to lie down on his bed and also he sawed off parts of their body or extended their legs till they fit the bed effectively (Diodorus 4.59.5). Theseus gave Procrustes the exact same fate that he had actually offered to so many type of strangers (Thes. 11.1).

Medea rides a chariot pulled by dragons. Lucanian Calyx-Krater, c. 400 BC, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund 1991.1.

While Theseus journeyed towards Athens, public affairs were full of confusion and dissension, and also the private affairs of Aegeus were in a distressing problem. Medea, a sorceress from Colchis, chanced upon Aegeus and promised him that she would use her magic to relieve Aegeus’ childlessness; in rerevolve Aegeus swore that Medea would be safeguarded by him and also that she would constantly have a area in his land (Eur. Med. 663-758). Medea had newly fbrought about Athens from Corinth. Jachild, her husband also, had actually remarried Glauce, daughter of King Creon of Corinth in order to increase his very own political terminal. In an act of vengeance Medea eliminated both Jason’s children and also Glauce (Library 1.9.28). After showing up in Athens, Medea married Aegeus and bore a son, Medus (Library 1.9.29).

Theseus did not obtain a heat welcome as soon as he got to Athens (Thes. 12.1-3). Medea well-known Theseus’ identification, while Aegeus was ignorant. Fearing that Theseus’ presence would certainly reason Medus not to inherit the throne, she argued that Aegeus entertain Theseus as guest, and then poikid him so that Aegeus would not be threatened by this glorious youth. Since Aegeus was constantly afraid of the sons of Pallas and also his exclusive life was in such a disorganized state, he readily agreed to this scheme. Throughout dinner, Theseus drew his sword to cut his meat, revealing his true identification to his father. Aegeus instantly knocked over the cup of poichild and formally known his son before an assembly.

Theseus did not reprimary idle, yet desiring to perform excellent for his people, he continued to perform great deeds. Theseus went out to tame the Marathonian bull, which had been bring about great mischief to the citizens of Tetrapolis. Once he mastered the bull, he drove it alive through the city and sacrificed it to Apollo (Thes. 14.1).

Theseus’ following manipulate was to slay the Minotaur, a half-male, half-bull hybrid, in the Labyrinth at Crete (Thes. 14.2). Androgeos, child of the Cretan king Minos, was killed tragically while in Attica; battle ensued and also tranquility was obtained just as soon as Aegeus promised to send a tribute of salso young males and salso young woguys to Crete to be devoured by the Minotaur eincredibly nine years (Thes. 14.1-2). Theseus available himself as among these sacrifices, and took off for Crete via his comrades (Thes. 17.1-2). Theseus had the ability to slay the Minotaur, and via a string he had actually been given by Ariadne, daughter of Minos, he escaped safely from the labyrinth (Thes. 19.1).

Unfortunately, Theseus had actually forobtained one thing: he was expected to readjust the babsence sails of his ship to white as a sign to his father that he did well (Thes. 17.2, 22.1). Aegeus, in a state of utter despair when he observed the ship, hurled himself into the sea that bears his name, the Aegean (Thes. 22.1). As the new king of Athens, Theseus unified Attica right into a solitary political device and also restarted the Isthmian Gamings (Thes. 24-25).

Theseus later saw the Euxine Sea and waged a project against the Amazons with Hercules. Theseus got the Amazon Antiope (or Hippolyta according to Herodotus and also various other authorities) as spoils of war, and also they later had actually a child, Hippolytus (Thes. 26.1-2, 28.2). Theseus’ campaign caused a daunting battle through the Amazons within Athens itself; the war continued for three months, at which allude Antiope had the ability to negotiate a tranquility treaty (Thes. 27.1-4).

Battle of Lapiths and Centaurs. Frieze over the Opisthodomos. Temple of Hephaistos, Athens.

Theseus was affiliated in many various other heroic actions, most famous of which is the fight with the centaurs. Theseus was a guest at the wedding of Peirithous and also Deidameia; the Lapithae and also the centaurs were likewise present (Thes. 30.3). The centaurs became drunk on wine, and also began to lay their lands on the women; Theseus and the Lapithae responded via vengeance by slaying the centaurs and also expelling them from the country (Thes. 30.3).

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Further Materials:

Family Tree of Theseus
Deeds of Theseus: facility, Minotaur; about, clockwise from optimal, Kerkyon, Prokrustes, Skiron, bull, Sinis, sow. Kodros Painter. Attic red-figured kylix, ca. 440-430 BCE. From Vulci. British Museum E 84.