The Legend of Theseus

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Theseus, son of Aegeus and Etra, is considered one of the greatest heroes of Greek mythology. His great importance is related to his strength, prowess and the death of the Minotaur. In the Greek language, his name means “strong man”.

Already in adolescence he raised a huge stone and everyone is impressed by his strength.

In this event, he can learn the identity of his father, which until then was unknown to him. At that time, his father Aegean was King of Athens. After the revelation he goes to Athens to meet his father.

Legend has it that her father lay with Etra and asked her so that if she had a son, he would reveal her identity only if he managed to lift that huge stone.

It is curious to note that under the immense rock there was his father's sword and sandals. Therefore, when he arrived in Athens, his father identified him as he had his belongings with him.

At that time, Aegean was married to Medea, a powerful sorceress. She tried to stop the meeting between father and son by asking Aegeus to poison the boy.

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However, Aegean finds Theseus with his sword and sandals and Medea ends up fleeing for fear of the punishment the king could inflict on her.

Theseus and the Minotaur: History

Theseus was known as one of the great Athenian heroes since he was the one who freed the Greek people from the disgrace of the Minotaur.

theseusStatue of Theseus fighting the Minotaur

The Minotauro was a monster with the body of a man and the head of a bull and, for this reason, it is also called the “Bull of Minos”.

Before killing the Minotaur in Crete's labyrinth, many Greeks had already died trying to kill the dreaded monster.

Learn more about Minotaur.

Theseus and Ariadne

Ariadne was a princess, daughter of the King of Minos and Queen Parsifae. When he arrived in Crete in order to face the Minotaur, Theseus fell in love with her. Likewise, Ariadne is enchanted by Theseus and resolves to help him kill the Minotaur.

So, she gave him a sword and a ball of yarn so that he, when entering the labyrinth where the Minoaturo was trapped, could mark his way back with the thread and, thus, leave it. The artifact became known as the “Ariadne's Thread”.

In such a way, Theseus with his great strength confronts and kills the Minotaur, managing to get out of the labyrinth.

Although in some versions he runs away with his beloved Ariadne, in others Theseus marries Antiope (or Hippolyta), and with her he had a son: Hippolytus.

Theseus' Ship

Theseus' ship references the ship that took him and other young men from Crete to kill the Minotaur. As agreed, if he managed to kill the minotaur, the black candles should be replaced by the white ones.

By mistake, his father, upon seeing the black sails, thought that Theseus had died facing the Minotaur and committed suicide by drowning in the sea, which today receives his name: Aegean Sea. With the death of his father, Theseus becomes the king of Athens.

Want to know more about Greek Mythology, see the articles:

  • Greek mythology
  • Greek gods


In cinema, the Italian film “Theseus against the Minotaur” was released in 1960 and directed by Silvio Amadio. The feature film is based on one of the most emblematic legends of Greek mythology: the fight between Theseus and the Bull of Minos.
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