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Sunday, January 8, 2012

Theseus January 8

Theseus: Theseus was perhaps the greatest hero in Greek mythology. 1 Theseus was the son of Aethra and King Aegus and Poseidon. Aerthra had slept with her husband and the god in one night, giving Theseus two fathers. 2  Aegus returned to rule Athens, abandoning Theseus, but first leaving him a sword and a pair of sandals hidden under a massive stone. 3 Theseus was raised by a wise Centaur and when he reached adulthood, he went to Athens to claim his rights.  Theseus had many remarkable adventures on the way to his father’s kingdom, one of which was killing the Crommyonian Sow. 4 Theseus did not reveal his true identity at first, and Aegus, suspicious, sent the young hero off to kill the Maranthonian Bull.  Only after Theseus returned in triumph, did Aegus look down and say, “Hey!  I recognize those shoes!  You must be my long-lost son!”  Now Theseus embarked on one last venture – to kill the dreaded Cretan Minotaur, the half-man, half-bull offspring of Queen Pasiphae and a sacred bull. 5 The Princess Ariadne, half-sister of the Minotaur, fell in love with Theseus and offered to help him.  She went to Daedalus, the inventor who had designed the labyrinth to be so labyrinthian that neither the Minotaur or any of his victims could ever escape.  6 Daedalus told Theseus to bring along a ball of string when he went in the labyrinth, unwinding it as he went, so he could find his way back. 7 Theseus killed the Minotaur and fled with Ariadne, promising to take her as his wife; however, stopping on an island, they encountered the god Dionysius, who fell in love with her and kept her as his own. 8 Theseus’ return to Athens was marked by a tragic coincidence; Theseus had set off with black sails raised, promising Aegus he would replace them with white sails should he be victorious.  However, in the rush of events – killing a monster and meeting a god, and everything – Theseus forgot to take down the black sails, and when Aegus saw them on the horizon, he threw himself to his death. 
Theseus returned to find himself king, but was heartbroken to learn it had been due to this oversight. 9

1. Or so Theseus claimed.
2. Those Greeks didn't know much biology, did they?
3. Thanks, Dad!
4. For some reason this adventure isn't much publicized.  I can't think of why.
5. See footnote 2.
6. Daedalus also built the wooden cow in which Pasiphae hid to copulate with the bull.  Daedalus was a multi-faceted guy.
7. Surprising no one had thought of that before, really.
8. Or so Theseus claimed.
9. Or so Theseus claimed.

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