June 7, 2013
CLA204 WEEK 11
Theseus: Hero and Ideal Ruler
Helping friends harming enemies –true quality of Hero (Seen in all labours not so
much in the 1 one)
Aegeas and Aethra (from Troezen) / Theseus Finds His Birth Tokens
Aegeas is the guy who took Medea in Athens. Aegeas is sterile cant have kids of his
own. Delphic oracle gives him a strange answer it says, “do not open….” He goes to
his friend famous for his wisdom his friend immediately understands it’s a
euphemism for the next time you have sex. He gets Aegeas drunk then sends his
daughter into his bedroom, she becomes pregnant, then sacrifices to Poseidon has
sex with Poseidon and so Theseus has 2 fathers. Aegeas thinks son is a bastard, I
only want to meet him if he turns out to be a great man if he can lift rock and
uncover tokens he will accept him. Theseus grows up lifts rock decides to journey to
Athens to see his father, Aethra begs him to take the sea but Theseus wants to prove
himself that he can face any challenge.
Theseus has 6 labours on his way to Athens.
1 . Theseus destroys wild pig and helps innocent farmers
2 Punishes crime with same crime. Encounters’ bully who bashes in the heads of
travelers, Theseus steels his club and bashes in Periphetes head. Protects travelers
(friends) harms Periphetes (enemy).
3 competition for Heracles. Sinis is an example of a creative labour. He makes
travelers help him bend pine trees down, then Sinis lets go and travelers get
catapulted and die. Sometimes ties them onto two pine trees and travelers are split
apart. Theseus ties Sinis to two pine trees.
4 Makes travelers wash his feet, kicks them, they roll down cliff, and at the bottom
is giant man eating turtle, Theseus does the same thing to Sciron.
5 welcomes travelers stay at night, in the middle of the night sees how tall they are
in comparison to the bed if too tall cuts them if too short stretches them, Theseus
does the same thing to him. Compulsive disorder.
Cercyron and Eleusis
6 Not good king promises kingdom to anyone who could beat him in a wrestling
match (compared to chariot race Hippodamia) Theseus beats him and ties him to
Eleusis. June 7, 2013
Medea and Aegeas
Medea gave Theseus a potion, has a son named Medus. Worried Medeas son will be
disinherited and she might be exiled so she wants to get Theseus out of the picture.
Convinces Aegeas to send Theseus to kill the Bull of Marathon (which is same one
Heracles has brought back) has no problem killing bull comes home, Medea decides
she’s going to poison Theseus’ cup, he’s about to drink from the cup and Aegeas
notices the sword Theseus carries (recognition token serves its purpose) recognizes
his son welcomes him and exiles Medea and her son.
King Minos of Crete / Pasiphae and the Bull / Daedalus
Minos wants a beautiful bull for himself to sacrifice to the gods. He is given one by
Poseidon then Minos says its too beautiful to kill, substitutes it. Not giving back to
the gods in exchange to what has been given to him. Poseidon decides to make his
wife Pesiphae fall in love with the bull.
Daedalus builds a fake hollow cow so she can sit inside so the bull will have sex with
her. The result is a child Minotaur. Minos can’t kill Minotaur son so he traps him in a
Minotaur and Labyrinth
Athenians are responsible for killing Minos’ son. Every year Athens has to send 7
boys and 7 girls to Crete and they get thrown into the labyrinth and are killed
(emphasise theme helping friends harming enemies)
Theseus kills the Minotaur.
Ariadne on Naxos
Theseus abandons Ariadne on an island, Dionysus in one version married Ariadne,
Dionysus rescues her from the island.
Meanwhile, back in Athens…
Theseus is responsible for the death of his own father. Father tells him if he is
successful change black sail to white to let him know if he is alive or if he has been
killed. Aegeas is sitting their sees black sails thinks his son is dead and throws
himself into the ocean. (Aegeas Sea). Now Theseus gets to be king of Athens.
Theseus and Antiope (Hippolyta)
Looking for an adventure, Theseus tags along with Heracles when he goes off on a
mission to obtain Hippolyta a girl from the Amazons. Heracles has to go get a girdle
from the queen Amazon. Hippolyta doesn’t even fight she is willing to just give it to
Heracles but Thesues steals Amazonian women and starts war against them.
Amazon becomes pregnant and gives birth to Hippolytus who hates all women like
his mother hates all men. June 7, 2013
Death of Hippolytus
Doesn’t have sex or worship Aphrodite so this leads to his death. Theseus is the bad
guy he jumps to wrong conclusions, painful death of his son, and sorrow on his
family because he didn’t try to find out what happened. Hippolytus doesn’t defend
himself Thesues doesn’t try to find out what has happened just jumps to
Theseus and Pirithous, Lapiths vs. Centaurs
Theseus decides wants a new wife, they make a pact that their going to try and find
wives. Pirithous king of Lapiths lives in Thrace and Centaurs also live there, they are
invited to wedding of Pirithous, centaurs decide it would be a good idea to abduct
bride and attendants, bride is recovered there is a violent conflict that emerges.
Theseus civilized the centaurs put them in their place. Made a pact that they would
help each other find new brides after theirs have died, Theseus abducts 8-12yr old
Helen and hides her in his mothers house unfortunately Helens brothers rescue her.
Theseus then helps Pirithous who wants Persephone. Theseus has to help his friend
they go to the underworld, Pirithous goes up to Hades and asks for his wife, Hades
says lets sit down and talk, they sit, get stuck. Heracles rescues Theseus is so strong
that he can pull Theseus out of the chair but Pirithous is punished and must stay
Death on Scyros
Theseus flees to Scyros goes to leader hopping for hospitality that he will be able to
gather his strength and attempt to get back Athens, ruler is worried Theseus will
take over his kingdom so he throws Theseus off a cliff and kills him. His death is a let
The Hero’s Quest
• Usually one divine parent (usually leading to an extraordinary birth or
• Extraordinary in some way (often strength)
• Persecuted or pursed by enemies
• Divine or human allies help (sometimes with magical objects)
• A human companion
• Transgression of taboos and atonement
• Rewarded with marriage and/or political power
• Conquering death (temporarily or permanently)
Has connections with Eleusis not far from downtown Athens.
• Synoecism of Attica
• Panathenaia June 7, 2013