Theseus (/ˈθiːsiːəs/; Ancient Greek: Θησεύς [tʰɛːsěu̯s]) was a mythical king of Athens and the son of Aethra by two fathers: Aegeus and Poseidon. His name comes from the same root as θεσμός ("thesmos"), Greek for "The Gathering", and he was held as the unifying king of the synoikismos ("dwelling together") — the political unification of Attica under Athens, represented emblematically in his journey of labours, subduing ogres and monstrous beasts. The myths surrounding Theseus — his journeys, exploits, and family — have provided material for fiction throughout the ages.
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Quotes about Theseus
- Theseus was, of course, bravest of the brave, as all heroes are; but, unlike other heroes, he was as compassionate as he was brave, and a man of great intellect as well as great bodily strength. It was natural that the Athenians should have such a hero, because they valued thought and ideas, as no other part of the country did. In Theseus their ideal was embodied.
- From Themistocles began the saying, "He is a second Hercules."
- Plutarch, in Life of Theseus, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)
- The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned from Crete had thirty oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed, putting in new and stronger timber in their places, in so much that this ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.
- Men who hover over their opponents have no cause to evolve a science of wrestling; and Theseus is conventionally shown in combat with hulking of monstrous enemies, living by his wits. The tradition that he emulated the feats of Herakles may well embalm some ancient sneer at the over-compensation of a small assertive man. Napoleon comes to mind.
If one examines the legend in this light, a well-defined personality emerges. It is that of a light-weight; brave and aggressive, physically tough and quick; highly sexed and rather promiscuous; touchily proud, but with a feeling for the underdog; resembling Alexander in his precocious competence, gift of leadership, and romantic sense of destiny.