Our story starts out with Aegeus, the king of Athens, who desperately wanted a child. He consulted the oracle at Delphi about his wish, but he did not understand the answer, because it was in the form of a riddle. So he went to the wise King Pittheus, ruler of Troezen. King Pittheus deceived King Aegeus, and got him extremely drunk, and brought him and his daughter, Aethra, together to lie together, and they did. However, what they didn’t know was that Poseidon, ruler of the ocean, also shared Aethra’s bed that night. The next morning, Aegeus had to leave, but before he did he set a pair of sandals and a sword under a rock, and told Aethra that if his son were born, have him try annually to lift the stone, and the year that he was strong enough to lift it, he should journey to Athens to meet his father, Aegeus.

The child that was the product of that night was named Theseus, and grew to be a strong and smart man. Once Theseus had successfully lifted the rock, Aethra told him to set out to Athens, where his father would recognize him by the sword and sandals. Theseus had two ways to get to Athens, by land, and by water. The water route was the easiest, and the safest way, whereas the land route was long and dangerous, filled with villains who kill weary travelers. Theseus chose to take the land route, because he wanted to be known as a hero.

Along his journey, he encountered all of the bandits that inhabited the land route to Athens, and he bestowed upon them the fate that that bandit would bestow upon their captive travelers. For example, one villain would tie travelers to a bed, and if they were too small for the bed, he would stretch them to fit it, but if they were too big for the bed, he would cut off their extremities until they fit. Another villain would bend two trees in opposite directions so that they met at the middle, then he would tie a traveler to both trees and the victim would be ripped apart as the trees sprung back to their original stature. Theseus defeated all these villains, and by the time he reached Athens he was a well-known hero.

When Theseus arrived in Athens, he immediately sought his father, King Aegeus. Theseus found him at a banquet, where Theseus went and then drew his sword and showed his sandals to Aegeus. Aegeus immediately recognized his belongings as the ones he had left under the rock in Troezen all those years ago. Aegeus then proclaimed to Athens that Theseus was his son, and the heir to his throne.

Years before Theseus journeyed to Athens, Athens was attacked by Crete. In order to maintain their independence, Athens had to pay a yearly tribute of adolescents to the Cretans to feed the Minotaur in the Labyrinth. When Theseus heard about this, he immediately volunteered himself as a tribute. Although Aegeus let Theseus go, he was greatly saddened by the probable loss of his son. Theseus and Aegeus then made a plan, that if Theseus were not killed, he would hoist a white sail upon his return voyage, instead of the black sail that usually accompanies the ship returning to Athens from Crete.


So Theseus sailed to Crete, and was endowed by a stroke of luck upon his arrival. When the Tributes arrived, they were paraded down the streets of Crete, where the princess of Crete, Ariadne, happened to be. When she saw Theseus, she immediately fell in love, and decided that she would help him kill the Minotaur.



When the time came for the tributes to enter the Labyrinth, Ariadne gave Theseus a ball of thread. And told him to tie it to the entrance to the labyrinth, so that once he killed the Minotaur he would be able to find his way out.


Theseus wandered around the Labyrinth looking for the Minotaur, all the while rolling the string behind him. Eventually he found the Minotaur, and killed it in an epic battle. Since he had completed his task, he followed his thread until he reached the entrance.



When Theseus Was going to sail home, Ariadne asked if she could come home with him to be his wife. Theseus accepted, and they started on their journey home, to Athens. On their way, they stopped on the island of Dia. There, something happened with Adriane, either Theseus left her, or she died, there are many different versions of this part of the myth, but they all agree that after that, Theseus was not in his right mind, and forgot to raise the white sail. So when Aegeus saw the ship from Crete returning with a black sail, he assumed his son to be dead, and jumped off a cliff into what is known today as the Aegean Sea.


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