Episode #3 of the course “Heroes of Greek Legend”
Theseus is a hero alongside several others in Greek mythology, known for killing fearsome beasts and partaking in daring adventures. He was celebrated throughout the month of October, and the eighth day of every other month was made sacred to him. Like many heroes of ancient Greece, Theseus’ lineage is not exactly clear. Although it is undisputed that his mother was the princess Aethra, legends vary as to whether his real father was Poseidon, the god of the sea, or Aegeus, king of Athens. However, at 16, Theseus embarked on a quest to meet Aegeus and announce himself as Aegeus’ son.
The road to Athens was plagued by bandits, murderers, and dangerous tricksters at the time, but Theseus dispatched them all. By the time he arrived at Athens, he was considered a hero. His father’s wife, Medea, was a sorceress and attempted to have Theseus poisoned before he revealed his true identity, but the plot failed. Aegeus then declared Theseus heir to the Athenian throne, and Theseus embarked on a series of adventures which include killing the famed Minotaur of Crete. The Minotaur was a half-man, half-bull monster trapped in the Labyrinth—a maze so complicated that none had escaped from it. Theseus carried with him a ball of string which he unwound, and after defeating the Minotaur, used the string to lead him back to the Labyrinth’s entrance.
Theseus’ famed friendship with Pirithous took him on two more notable adventures. Together they kidnapped the young Helen of Troy and took her to Theseus’ mother. Then, they traveled to the Underworld, where Pirithous demanded the wife of the god of the Underworld, Hades. After being tricked and imprisoned by Hades, Theseus was only luckily rescued by his cousin, Heracles.
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