Theseus was the son of the Athenian King and everyone considered him a great hero. He didnt spend his childhood in Athens, he lived with his mother. His father, many years ago, placed in a hollow a sword and a pair of shoes and covered them with a big stone. He told his wife that when the boy was strong enough to move the stone and take the sword and the shoes, he could come to Athens to see his father. The boy was stronger than other boys in his age and lifting the stone didnt cause him any trouble at all.
Theseus refused to go to Athens by water, he preferred land, he wanted to experience danger immediately. His journey was dangerous, there was a lot of bandits, which he all killed. He had his own justice, he did to everyone what they had done to others.
When he came to Athens, all the people heard about him. The King invited him to a banquet in order to poison him, because he didnt know Theseus was his son and he was afraid that popular young man can become king and get rid of him. The King wasnt the one who thought of that, it was Medea, who knew the truth and didnt want Theseus to take her influence on the King. But his father recognized him because he saw the sword and Medea had to escape again. The King immediately claimed Theseus his son and heir.
There was something Theseus could do to make himself popular amongst Athenians. Minos, the ruler of the Crete, had lost his only son while he was visiting the Athenian king many years ago. This was the King´s fault and Minos invaded Athens after this and made the King send him 7 young boys and 7 girls every 9 years. When they reached Crete, they were given to the Minotaur.
The Minotaur was half bull, half human, he was son of Minos´ wife and a bull that Poseidon gave to him. He was supposed to sacrifice it but he kept it and Poseidon as a punishment, made his wife fall in love with it.
When the Minotaur was born, Minos had Daedalus, the famous architect to build him the Labyrinth, from which was impossible to escape. Theseus offered to be one of the victims, he wanted to try to kill Minotaur. He promised his father that if he succeeded, he would change the black sail on his ship to white so the King knows if his son was safe.
When the victims came to the Crete, they were shown to the inhibitants on their way to the Labyrinth. Minos´ daughter, Ariadne fell in love with Theseus at first sight. She made Daedalus show her a way to get out of the Labyrinth. She told Theseus she would help him if he promised her to take her to Athens and marry her. He promised her so and she gave him a ball of thread to fasten at one end to the inside of the door and unwind as he went on. He did that and he could retrace his steps whenever he chose. He found Minotaur and killed him with his fists, because he didn´t have any weapon. Theseus, with the help of ball of thread, found a way out of labyrinth. He took others and Ariadne to the ship and they sailed.
There are two versions of what happened next. One says that Theseus sailed away without Ariadne when she fell asleep on the island Nexos and the other says that she was seasick and he left her recover while he was doing some other job on his ship. The wind carried him away and when he came back, Ariadne was dead.
Theseus, when they were close to Athenes, forgot to hoist the white sail. His father, thinking he lost his only son, killed himself, so Theseus became the King of Athens. He was a wise and fair king. He wanted a people´s government where all would be equal. Athens became, with him as a king, the happiest and most prosperous in the world. He fought in the great War of the Seven against Thebes, he was with Oedipus when he dies, he supported Hercules when he killed his wife and children. He went to the Amazons country and brought one of them to Athenes, he had a son with her, the other Amazons came to rescue her and invaded Attica. Theseus defeated them and no enemy entered Attica till Theseus´ death.
He had many other adventures, he was one of the Argonauts for example. He saved the life of his friend, Pirithous, a number of times. Pirithous liked danger as well as Theseus but he wasn´t as successful as him as he was always in trouble. He wanted to see if Theseus was as great a hero as he was to be and he stole some of Theseus´ cattle. When he heard that Theseus found out, instead of running, he decided to face Theseus. But as the two of them faced each other, Pirithous held out his hand and apologized to Theseus. Apology was accepted and their friendship went on without harm.
When Pirithous was getting married, Theseus was there as a guest and he was very useful there. The centaurs were related to the bride and they came to the wedding. They got drunk and one of them tried to carry her away. Theseus saved her and terrible fight followed. They managed to get rid of the centaurs with Theseus´ help.
After the disastrous wedding, Pirithous decided that he wanted the most carefully guarded lady in all the universe for his second wife, Persephone herself. Theseus agreed to help him but first he kidnapped Helen, then a child – he wanted to marry her when she grows. Helen´s brothers got her back, fortunately for Theseus, he was already on his way to get Persephone.
They came to the underworld and Hades, perfectly aware of why they came, invited them to sit in his presence. They considered it friendly gesture and they sat on the seat he wanted them to and they stayed there, as it was the Chair of Forgetfulness. If someone sat on it, they forgot everything and could not move. Hercules saved Theseus, but he didn´t manage to save Pirithous too, because Hades knew that it was his plan to carry Persephone away.
Later, Theseus married Ariadne´s sister Phaedra and that brought terrible misfortune on her, him and his son Hippolytus. He had sent Hippolytus away as a child to the same town he had spent his youth. His son turned to the great man, but he scorned Aphrodite, he worshipped only Artemis. When Theseus came to see him, bringing Phaedra with him, he didn´t even noticed her, he enjoyed company of his father. Phaedra, on the other hand, fell in love with him. Aphrodite, who has angry with Hippolytus, decided to punish him.
Phaedra desperate of love, decided to kill herself and let no one know why. Theseus was out of town but her old nurse, who really loved Phaedra, discovered everything. She went straight to Hippolytus and told him about Phaedra´s determination to die and about her love for him. He, however, wasn´t interested in women at all and especially this love sickened and horrified him. He was angry at the old woman and left.
Phaedra, hearing that, killed herself and left a letter for her husband. When he came home and found her dead, he opened the letter and read it again and again. He cursed his son, as in letter was that „his son laid his violent hands upon his wife“. He also banished him from land although Hippolytus tried to defend himself, he didnt believe him. Hippolytus went, but not into exile, his father´s curse came true and he had an accident. Artemis appeared to Theseus and told him the truth. Hippolytus, still not dead was carried in. He forgave his father and died. Artemis let Theseus know that Aphrodite killed his son, not him.
Theseus was at court of a friend, king Lycomedes and he killed him, no one knows why. The Athenians honored Theseus as a great hero, as they did with no other mortal.