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Theseus (Greek: Θησεύς ) was a Greek Demigod hero, son of Poseidon , and founder-king of the city of Athens . He acts as a boss in God of War II .

  • 1 Greek Mythology
  • 3 Powers and Abilities
  • 4 Personality

Greek Mythology

Theseus was one of the most famous heroes and founder-king of Athens . He was the son of both the god Poseidon and a mortal man Aegus (his mother laid with both on her wedding night), the dual patronage of which still bestowed godliness unto him. (However, he may only be the son of one of them, most likely Poseidon). Although not his only one, his most famous exploit was killing the Minotaur , son of King Minos of Crete's wife and a sacred bull. Earlier, Theseus' father had sent one of King Minos' sons to his death and in return, the Cretans had defeated the Athenians in war. The Athenians then had to pay tribute; a nine-yearly sacrifice of seven young men and seven young girls to be sent to Crete to be eaten by the Minotaur. Theseus travelled on one of the ships to Crete, and with the help of Ariadne, Minos' daughter, he bested the Labyrinth and defeated the Minotaur. This myth might have referred to a change in the Athenian constitution when the historical Minoan Empire came to an end.

Theseus had a bad history with women. After helping Ariadne escape with him to Athens , he abandoned her en route on the island of Naxos. As he was the son of Poseidon, and his best friend Peirithous was the son of Zeus , they decided that each should marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus decided on Helen (of Troy, but currently Helen of Sparta and only a child) and Peirithous on Persephone . They managed to kidnap Helen but lost her to the Spartans while trapped in the Underworld by Hades for attempting to kidnap Persephone. Heracles eventually saved Theseus but had to leave Peirithous. Later, while visiting the Amazons, Theseus claimed their queen, Hippolyta, to be his wife. This sparked a war between Athens and the Amazons. They did marry and have children though, but Theseus then remarried again, only to have his second wife, Phaedra, fall in love with his son from his marriage with Hippolyta. 

God of War II

Theseus 3

Theseus challenging Kratos into battle.

In God of War II , Theseus served the Sisters of Fate as the 'Horse Keeper' and kept the key to the various locks placed throughout the Steeds of Time . When Kratos arrived on The Steeds and met their guardian, the two studied each other in silence for a few moments. Theseus then snorted at Kratos’ presence, and correctly deduced his purpose on the island. After some sharp bickering, Kratos proposed Theseus to hand over the key, in exchange for his life. Theseus, however, was unmoved and amused by Kratos' intentions and mocked him, claiming that he was no match for Zeus or even Theseus himself. He then challenged Kratos to a duel to the death, in order to prove who was "the greatest warrior in all of Greece ".

Battling Kratos with the sword, Theseus proved a tough fighter, however, the Spartan proved to be too powerful for Theseus, who wielded a double-ended sword. taking punishment from his cousin and retaliating with vicious slashes and stabs. After taking a certain amount of damage in the battle, Theseus became even more dangerous after igniting the magical powers the sword held, increasing its power and enabling Theseus to summon massive spikes of ice to erupt from the ground in various formations. Kratos however, kept the upper hand.

Significantly weakened, Theseus climbed a doorway above Kratos, out of the Spartan's reach, forcing him to shoot him with arrows from a distance with Typhon's Bane . However, the Horse Keeper started firing projectiles of blue magic from his sword while periodically summoning Erebus Minotaurs to attack Kratos directly.

Ultimately, Kratos knocked Theseus off the roof, leaving him hanging by a single arm, The Spartan then latched his blade into him and pulled him down to the ground. Kratos subsequently turned Theseus' own sword against him by punching him in midair to take it from him and impaling him to the door with it.

Taking the key from him, he then used it to open the door Theseus was guarding. When the wounded Theseus attempted to stop Kratos, Kratos repeatedly smashed his cousin's head in with the door, then kicked him through the doorway and into the newly opened room, thus killing him. Upon Theseus' death, Kratos obtained the Horse Keeper's Key .

Due to Kratos reversing time at the end of God of War II , it can be assumed that Theseus fate was undone. Why would he still be made to serve the Sisters by his uncle despite them being dead, or why would he not have gotten involved in the Second Titanomachy in God of War III it's not explained.

Powers and Abilities

Theseus had numerous powers and special abilities. As a Demigod he was gifted with superhuman strength, agility, stamina, ice/water manipulation (an ability most likely passed down from his father, Poseidon ), endurance, accuracy, and durability (as he was able to take numerous blows from Typhon's Bane and the Blades of Athena). He also carried a large double-bladed sword along with him. He was able to infuse it with power so that the sword could then become more powerful, as well as releasing magical abilities.

He also had the power to summon icy spikes (which may be a form of water control), and pairs of Erebus Minotaurs , (possibly a reference to his legendary battle with the beast) to aid him in battle. While upon the doorway above Kratos, he could also use his spear to shoot projectiles in his direction.


Theseus has a very high opinion of himself and shows undying loyalty to Zeus and to The Sisters of Fate. Judging by his conversation with Kratos, Theseus did respect him at one point due to his belief that Kratos would never need to change his fate, but now that Kratos is on this mission, Theseus sees him as a weak fool, especially after he lost his godhood. However, this was before he realized Kratos' true strength, when overwhelmed.

Theseus has no respect for people deemed weaker than himself and belittles anyone who tries to change their fate. Theseus also appears to be a hypocrite, as he retreats to the top of the doorway and summons Minotaurs to assist him when it appears that Kratos was getting the upper hand in their fight.

  • It is interesting that Theseus is the "Horse Keeper", since, as the son of Poseidon, god of horses, and founder hero of Athens, a city with strong ties to both Poseidon and Athena , and he, therefore, does have strong connotations with horses in myth. In the game, Theseus has many horse decorations in the arena and on his person.
  • His ability to summon Minotaurs is regarded as an ironic twist on the legend of Theseus.
  • In Titan Mode , the ice spikes he creates will instantly kill Kratos if they hit him.
  • During Bonus Play , using the L2-Circle attack of Typhoon's Bane on Theseus just as he strikes Kratos with one of his attacks will cause the game to freeze, making a restart necessary.
  • If Kratos knocks Theseus off the roof when there are any Minotaurs left, the creatures will disappear.
  • Theseus seems to be an aged hero since his hair is gray and his features are roughened, also Kratos addresses him as an old man ( "Let me pass, and I will let you live, old man." ). However, the PS4 incarnation of God of War complicates Theseus's age since Kratos was able to 150 years old and not show any sign of age. Wether or not Kratos' curse affected his age or all demigods have a longer lifespan is unclear.
  • Despite Kratos' tendency to take valuable exploits from many of his fallen powerful enemies, he did not take Theseus's spear. This strange "choosy" habit is also evident from the fact that he did not take any of Perseus's magical belongings after he killed him as well, but then he claimed the Spear of Destiny which he left behind earlier. A mere speculation is that Kratos uses his own judgement (out of personal taste or evaluation of a weapon's effectiveness if used by him being possibilities) to determine which weapon/tool he should pick (other than the ones given/offered to him) and so far this method proves to be effective for him, but in God of War: Ascension he is able to acquire any of his enemies weapons - however, since that game was a prequel, it may be that, as he aged and gained experience, Kratos became more adept in his skills in the later games to the point where he could effectively judge what weapons he did or did not wish to keep. Kratos also might've felt as he got older that he did not need to use more common weapons as he does in Ascension, as he had become more comfortable with using less weaponry other than his chained blades.    
  • Due to Kratos using the power of the Sisters of Fate to return in time to the moment Zeus killed him, it's possible that Theseus, as well as everyone else killed by Kratos after this moment, are alive due to changing the timeline. This might explain why Poseidon didn't vengefully mention his death in God of War III .
  • Kratos's respect towards Theseus has a real-life explanation. In Sparta, the elderly are actually venerated because it meant they survived enough battles to live to reach old age. Since Theseus is an old man and Kratos recognised him, it's enough for Kratos to show respect towards him by offering to spare him and he does honour Theseus's request for a duel to the death.


God of War 2 - Titan, Theseus

Kratos vs. Theseus

Greek Gods & Goddesses

Not many heroes are best known for their use of silk thread to escape a crisis, but it is true of Theseus. The Greek demi-god is known for feats of strength but is even better remembered for divine intelligence and wisdom. He had many great triumphs as a young man, but he died a king in exile filled with despair.

Theseus grew up with his mother, Aethra. She was the daughter of Pittheus, the king of Troezen. Theseus had two fathers. One father was Aegeus, King of Athens, who visited Troezen after consulting the Oracle at Delphi about finding an heir. He married Aethra then left her behind, telling her that if she had a child and if that child could move a boulder and retrieve the sword and sandals he had buried underneath, then she should send that child to Athens. Theseus’ other father was Poseidon , the god of the sea, who joined Aethra for a seaside walk on her wedding night.

When Theseus grew up, he easily picked up the large boulder and found his father’s items, so his mother gave him directions to Athens. Rather than take the safer sea route, he chose to take the land route even though he knew there would be multiple dangers ahead. Along the road he had to fight six battles. He defeated four bandits, one monster pig and one giant, winning every battle through strength and cunning.

When Theseus arrived at Athens, he did not reveal himself to his father. His father had married the sorceress Medea . She recognized Theseus and wanted to kill him. First, she sent him on a dangerous quest to capture the Marathonian bull. When he was successful, she gave him poisoned wine. Medea’s husband knew of her plan. However at the last moment, Aegeus saw Theseus had the sword and sandals he had buried and knocked the cup from his hand. Medea fled to Asia. Aegeus welcomed Theseus and named him as heir to the throne.

Battle with the Minotaur

Sometime later came Theseus’ greatest challenge. Every seven years King Minos of Crete forced Athens to send seven courageous young men and seven beautiful young women to sacrifice to the Minotaur , a half-man, half-bull creature that lived in a complicated maze under Minos’ castle. This tribute was to prevent Minos starting a war after Minos’ son, Androgens, was killed in Athens by unknown assassins during the games. Theseus volunteered to be one of the men, promising to kill the Minotaur and end the brutal tradition. Aegeus was heartbroken, but made Theseus promise to change the ship’s flags from black to white before he returned to show that he had succeeded.

When Theseus arrived in Crete, King Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with him and promised to help him escape the labyrinth if he agreed to take her with him and marry her. He agreed. Ariadne brought him a ball of silk thread, a sword and instructions from the maze’s creator Daedalus – once in the maze go straight and down, never to the left or right.

Theseus and the Athenians entered the labyrinth and tied the end of the thread near the door, letting out the string as they walked. They continued straight until they found the sleeping Minotaur in the center. Theseus attacked and a terrible battle ensued until the Minotaur was killed. They then followed the thread back to the door and were able to board the ship with the waiting Ariadne before King Minos knew what had happened.

That night Theseus had a dream – likely sent by the god Dionysus – saying he had to leave Ariadne behind because Fate had another path for her. In the morning, Theseus left her weeping on the Island of Naxos and sailed to Athens. Heartbroken, perhaps cursed by Ariadne, Theseus forgot to change the ship’s flags from black to white.

His father, seeing the black flags on the approaching ship, assumed Theseus was dead . Aegeus threw himself off the cliffs and into the sea to his death. The sea east of Greece is still called the Aegean Sea.

Ariadne would later marry Dionysus.

King of Athens

Theseus became King of Athens after his father’s death. He led the people well and united the people around Athens. He is credited as a creator of democracy because he gave up some of his powers to the Assembly. He continued to have adventures.

During one of his adventures, he travelled to the Underworld with his friend Pirithous, who was pursuing Persephone . Both friends sat on rocks to rest and found that they could not move. Theseus remained there for many months until he was rescued by his cousin Heracles , who was in the Underworld on his 12th task. Pirithous had been led away by Furies in the meantime and was not rescued.

On another adventure with Heracles, he set out to rescue the Amazon Queen Hippolyta’s girdle. After the quest, Theseus married her and they had a son named Hippolytus. When Hippolytus was a young man, he caused a fit of jealousy between the goddesses Aphrodite and Artemis .

Aphrodite, the goddess of love, caused Phaedra, who was Theseus’ second wife and Ariadne’s younger sister, to fall in love with her stepson. Phaedra killed herself and left a note blaming Hippolytus’ bad treatment of her for her actions.

When Theseus saw the note, he called on his father Poseidon to take revenge on Hippolytus. A sea monster frightened the horses of Hippolytus’ chariot so that he was thrown from it, got tangled in the reins and dragged. Then Artemis let Theseus know he had been deceived and he ran to find his son, who died in his arms.

Due to his despair over losing his wife and his son, Theseus quickly lost popularity and the support of his people. He fled Athens for the Island of Skyros, where the king feared Theseus was plotting to overthrow him and pushed him off a cliff and into the sea to this death.

After His Death

Some ancient Greeks believed Theseus was a historical king of Athens. During the Persian Wars from 499 to 449 B.C., Greek soldiers reported seeing Theseus’ ghost on the battlefield and believed it helped lead them to victory. In 476 B.C., the Athenian Kimon is said to have found and returned Theseus’ bones to Athens and then built a shrine that also served as a sanctuary for the defenseless.

The ship Theseus used to sail to Crete was also believed to have been preserved in the city harbor until about 300 B.C. As wooden boards rotted they were replaced to keep the ship afloat. In time, people questioned whether any of the boards could have been from the original ship, which led to a question philosophers debate called the Ship of Theseus Paradox: “Is an object that has had all of its parts replaced still the original object?”

Quick Facts about Theseus

— Semigod ( demigod ) with two fathers, including the sea god Poseidon — Defeated the Minotaur — King of Athens credited with development of democracy — Lost his throne after the death of his wife and son — Aegean Sea is named for his human father — Frequently depicted in ancient and Romantic art — Experienced six tasks on his journey to Athens — Some believed him to be based on a historic kin

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Theseus was a Greek demigod , the son of Poseidon and the mortal princess Aethra. He was also the king of Athens , having inherited the throne from his stepfather, Aegeus .

  • 1.1 Early Life
  • 1.2 The Minotaur and Ariadne
  • 1.3 Later Adventures
  • 2.1 The Lightning Thief
  • 2.2 The Titan's Curse
  • 2.3 The Battle of the Labyrinth
  • 2.4 The Last Olympian
  • 3.1 The House of Hades
  • 4 Appearance
  • 5 Personality
  • 6 Abilities

History [ ]

Early life [ ].

Theseus' mother, Aethra, was a princess, daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen. When Aegeus, king of Athens, arrived in Troezen, he confided in Pittheus he did not understand the meaning of a prophecy which he had received from the Oracle of Delphi . (King Aegeus had been unable to sire an heir and sought advice from the Pythia, who gave him a cryptic and vague explanation). Pittheus, having immediately understood the prophecy, soon devised a plan to provide the aging king an heir - he threw a party, and when Aegeus grew drunk (his wine was purposely left unmixed), Pittheus introduced him to his daughter, Aethra, as the two then proceeded to lie with each other. (Aethra would also lie with the god Poseidon later that night). When Aegeus found out that Aethra was pregnant, he told Aethra that should she bear a son, she was to keep his identity a secret. He then placed his sword and sandals under a large rock nearby, and instructed Aethra that when their son grew up, he should retrieve the items under the rock and bring them to Aegeus' court to claim his birthright. Having said so, Aegeus returned to Athens.

Aethra named her son Theseus, who was raised as a prince in his grandfather's house. When Theseus grew up, Aethra told him of his identity and as instructed, had Theseus lift the rock, whereupon he retrieved the items that Aegeus had left for him. The youth then set out to Athens to claim his birthright, deciding to instead journey across the Isthmus of Corinth as opposed to traveling by sea.


Defeating Sciron.

On his way to Athens, Theseus encountered and defeated six rogues: Periphetes (the clubber), from whom Theseus took his club, Sinis (the bender of pines), Phaea and the Crommyonian Sow (a big pig monster), Sciron (pushed his victims from cliffs and fed them to his turtle), Cercyon (the wrestler), and Procrustes (the stretcher) in that order. He killed all the villains by doing the same thing they did to their victims, except Phaea and her sow. These exploits of his would serve to establish his own credentials as a hero and are referred to collectively as the Six Labors of Theseus .

When he arrived in Athens , Theseus did not introduce himself immediately, and his father was suspicious of the stranger. However, Medea , whom the king had married on believing her empty promises of giving him an heir, recognized him and worried that Theseus would be given the crown instead of her son Medus. She challenged him to capture the Marathonian Bull to prove himself, intending for the youth to be killed. Theseus returned to Athens victorious, whereupon a banquet was thrown in his honor. Medea once more planned to kill the young hero, this time by poisoning his wine cup. At the last second, King Aegeus recognized the sandals, shield and sword that Theseus was wearing as the ones he had left under a boulder for his son. He promptly knocked the poisoned wine out of Theseus' hands, and Medea fled. Father and son were promptly reunited, and Theseus was recognized as Aegeus' son and heir.

The Minotaur and Ariadne [ ]

Crete and Athens had a really bad relationship with each other because the son of King Minos was once assassinated in Athens. Minos then brought his whole fleet and nearly completely destroyed the city. He promised to spare the city on the condition that Athens would send seven of the most beautiful maidens and seven of he bravest young men as tributes to Crete so that they could be brought into the Labyrinth and killed.

Theseus fighting the Minotaur

Theseus defeating the Minotaur.

On the third occasion, Theseus volunteered to slay the monster. He took the place of one of the youths and set off with a black sail, promising to his stepfather, Aegeus, that if successful he would return with a white sail. Like the others, Theseus was stripped of his weapons when they sailed. On his arrival in Crete, Ariadne , King Minos' daughter, fell in love with Theseus and, on the advice of Daedalus , gave him a ball of thread . This was so he could find his way out of the Labyrinth. That night, Ariadne escorted Theseus to the Labyrinth, and Theseus promised that if he returned from the Labyrinth, he would take Ariadne with him as she hated it in Crete. As soon as Theseus entered the Labyrinth, he tied one end of the ball of string to the door post and brandished his sword which he had kept hidden from the guards inside his tunic. Theseus followed Daedalus' instructions given to Ariadne; go forwards, always down and never left or right. Theseus came to the heart of the Labyrinth and also upon the sleeping Minotaur. The beast awoke and a tremendous fight then occurred. Theseus overpowered the Minotaur with his strength, tore the Minotaur's horn off and stabbed the beast in the throat with its own horn (according to one scholium, Theseus strangled it on Pindar's Fifth Nemean Ode).

After decapitating the beast, Theseus used the string to escape the Labyrinth and managed to escape with all of the young Athenians and Ariadne as well as her younger sister Phaedra. On the journey home, Theseus abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos; some myths say because Athena told him to in a dream, where she was eventually found by the god Dionysus who fell in love with her and made her immortal. Ariadne then cursed Theseus to forget to change the black sail to white, though some myths say he forgot all by himself or he was grieving about leaving her behind. Seeing a black sail, Theseus' stepfather Aegeus thought Theseus had died and committed suicide by throwing himself into the sea (hence named Aegean). Theseus and the other Athenian youths returned to Athens safely, with Theseus inheriting the crown. He later claims in The Battle of the Labyrinth that he very much wanted to bring back his stepfather from the Underworld but was unable to do so. Now that he was king, Theseus decided to marry Phaedra.

Later Adventures [ ]

As king, Theseus is accredited with having implemented the Synoikismos , the unification of the twelve local settlements of Attica, the demes , into a single commonwealth with Athens as its center, abolishing the separate town councils and magistries, and he further divided the citizenry into three classes, the Eupatridæ (nobles), the Geomori (farmers), and the Demiurgi (artisans). Theseus would later defeat wild centaur tribes and fight the Amazons . At one point, he also welcomed the wandering Oedipus into his kingdom.

In his later years, however, Theseus fell into bad company with Pirithous, king of the Lapiths, and became far more reckless and villainous than ever before. He became a tyrannical king, best friends with Pirithous and, seeking to marry a daughter of Zeus , kidnapped a 13-year-old Helen of Sparta (this was long before Paris ), deciding to hold onto her until she was old enough to marry him (Helen escaped later however). Theseus once had a relationship with Hippolyta , the queen of the Amazons , and they had a son named Hippolytos . Pirithous also wanted a beautiful daughter of Zeus as a wife, but he chose a much more unattainable one - Persephone herself. Leaving Helen with his mother, Aethra, Theseus and Pirithous traveled to the Underworld . An enraged Hades , however, called the Furies to punish both heroes. When they sat down to drink, Pirithous had turned to stone and cracked while Theseus' bottom was stuck to the ground. While Theseus was eventually freed by Hercules a few months later (during the completion of his twelfth labor ), Pirithous was condemned to remain there for eternity, since he had committed too great a crime for wanting the wife of one of the Big Three as his own bride.

Even after freedom, Theseus eventually grew unpopular. What caused him to leave Athens and have the gods lose faith in him was killing Hippolytos, his own son, because he was flirting with Phaedra, due to the goddess Aphrodite , who sought to punish the latter for his aromantic asexuality . Then Theseus tried to gain fame in Skyros , but he was brought court and thrown off a cliff where he perished.

Theseus would continue to be revered as a hero in Athens years after his death, revered as the greatest of all heroes in place of Herakles. In 475 BC, allegedly at the command of the Pythia , the Athenian general Cimon recovered Theseus’ bones from Skyros and brought them back to Athens, placing them in a shrine called the Theseion. The Theseia festival was subsequently held in Athens every year on the 8th day of the month of Pyanepsion in honor of him and he was also associated with the 8th day of each month, as tradition stated that that was when the hero first arrived in Athens.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians [ ]

The lightning thief [ ].


Poseidon , his father

Theseus is mentioned by Percy Jackson , who stated how the hero defeated the Minotaur and Procrustes.

The Titan's Curse [ ]

Dionysus stopped Percy Jackson on Blackjack while they were following Thalia Grace , Grover Underwood , Zoë Nightshade and Bianca di Angelo . Dionysus told Percy that you could never trust heroes because of the account that Theseus "dumped" Ariadne on the island Naxos, betraying her. Because she was beautiful, Dionysus healed her broken heart and married her.

The Battle of the Labyrinth [ ]

Theseus' soul appeared while Nico di Angelo was trying to summon Bianca's soul. Percy thought that Theseus had been a "middle-aged, buff guy" until he saw his ghost, which surprised him. He looked about the same age as Percy which at that time was 14. The ghost stated that Aegeus was his stepfather and that he recognized King Minos, who was there next to Nico.

The Last Olympian [ ]

He is briefly mentioned by Paul Blofis and Nico while they were discussing how Percy would send a signal to his mom and Mr. Blofis if he defeated Kronos . More specifically, Blofis suggested, "Like Theseus. He was supposed to raise white sails when he came home to Athens," to which Nico replied, "Except he forgot, and his stepfather jumped off the palace roof in despair. But other than that, it was a great idea."

The Heroes of Olympus [ ]

The house of hades [ ].

Theseus is mentioned by Hazel Levesque when she and Jason Grace encountered Sciron on the coast of Croatia. Sciron mentioned that Theseus was a "cheater" and that he did not want to talk about him. Later, Theseus was mentioned by Hazel when she taunted Pasiphaë on how she would always be defeated by demigods, citing how he killed her son, the Minotaur, and stole her daughter, Ariadne, as a perfect example. This enraged Pasiphae.

Appearance [ ]

When Nico summons Theseus' soul in The Battle of the Labyrinth , it takes the form of a 14-year-old boy in Greek armor, with long curly dark hair and Poseidon's sea-green eyes, with a seashell-shaped clasp on his cloak. According to Percy, his voice sounded "like dry, crumpling paper", with his eyes "as lifeless as glass."

Personality [ ]

Being a man with ADHD, Theseus had problems. He was very willing to take risks going through extreme dangers. He was brave and cared for other people getting hurt, creating a philosophy on only attacking when attacked. But Theseus abandoned that philosophy after meeting Pirithous. He was willing to do dangerous and bad things by not even thinking first. But Theseus seemed to learned from his mistakes in The Battle of the Labyrinth . He even tried to persuade Nico not to suffice his same fate.

Abilities [ ]

As a son of Poseidon , one of the Big Three , Theseus was an extremely powerful demigod. The full extent of his power remains unknown as Theseus appears only as a ghost in the series.

  • ADHD : Like most demigods, Theseus possessed inborn supernatural battle reflexes and senses that he used to analyze the fighting style of his opponents. In Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes , Percy describes Theseus as the super-caffeinated kid and the deficit demigod, indicating that Theseus is extremely ADHD, even for a demigod.
  • High Intelligence : Theseus used his wits and cunning to defeat opponents who transcend his physical strength. Percy describes Theseus as "a really smart dude" and as "a genius" when it comes to some things, especially battles.
  • Hydrokinesis : In Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes , it is mentioned that Theseus once went underwater without problems. In mythology, Minos threw his ring into the sea and asked Theseus to retrieve it to prove that he is a son of Poseidon .
  • Superhuman Strength : Being a demigod, Theseus was stronger than the average mortal. Theseus was physically strong enough to wrestle with and overpower foes as mighty as Procrustes and the Minotaur . He was able to easily carry Periphetes' club, which was covered with about 20 sheets of solid bronze. He had also held the buff king, Cercyon over his head, and dropped him on his knee killing him instantly. Theseus had even managed to sling the Marathonian Bull on his shoulders, which Percy has stated, had weighed 500 pounds.
  • Fighting Skills : Theseus was an extremely skilled warrior, even inventing the combat art of pankration with Hercules . He was also skilled in hand-to-hand combat, as he was able to beat Cercyon with little effort at all. He was such a skilled warrior, that he slaughtered the first and second army of the Pallantides all by himself.
  • Despite being a son of Poseidon , Theseus' only confirmed ability was being able to go underwater with ease, and he instead possessed superhuman strength. This is similar to Hercules , who instead of the ability to control lightning , possessed superhuman strength instead.
  • Both Percy and Theseus are demigod sons of Poseidon .
  • Percy also slayed the Minotaur .
  • Theseus, like Percy, inherited their father's green eyes.
  • In The Lightning Thief , Percy Jackson also fought Procrustes and killed him the same way.
  • In Ancient Athens, where citizens valued thought and intelligence far above physical strength, Theseus was regarded as the greatest of heroes instead of Hercules.
  • Although Theseus is a son of Poseidon, Athena 's nemesis, he ironically inherited rule of Athens (Athena's city) from his stepfather, Aegeus. Today, despite being a tyrannical ruler and killing his son near the end of his reign, his legacy remains as he is remembered as Athens's greatest king. This could be viewed as a symbol of peace and the end of the feud between Athena and Poseidon.
  • Theseus' ship has been the subject of a thought experiment. According to Plutarch, the ship with the black sail was kept in Athenian harbor as a memorial. However, overtime the wood began to rot out, the people replaced them with new wood each time that happened. It is unknown how much of the original ship's wood did not rot, people wonder if they can still call it Theseus' ship since its many replacements.
  • Theseus and Pirithous were the only mortals that ever attempted to capture Persephone from Hades .
  • He was imprisoned in the Underworld and was later freed by Hercules around the same time as Jason met Medea . But Theseus encountered Medea early on in his life, and she had fled to Athens after giving up on Jason. This is currently still an unsolved timeline error.
  • In The Battle of the Labyrinth Theseus' ghost is described as looking about 14. However, he was 17 when he killed the Minotaur and died several decades after that.

Gallery [ ]

Pulling down one of Sinis' pine trees

  • 1 Percy Jackson
  • 2 Nico di Angelo
  • 3 Annabeth Chase

Theseus and Aethra by Laurent de La Hyre

Theseus and Aethra by Laurent de La Hyre (ca. 1635–1636)

Theseus—son of Aegeus (or Poseidon) and Aethra—was by far the most important of the mythical heroes and kings of Athens. His heroic accomplishments included killing the Minotaur, though he was also remembered as a political innovator who transformed his city into a major regional power.

Theseus was raised by his mother in Troezen but moved to Athens upon reaching adulthood. He traveled widely and performed many heroic exploits, eventually sailing to Crete to kill the Minotaur.

As king of Athens, Theseus greatly improved the government and expanded the power of his city. He was sometimes seen as the mythical predecessor of the political unification of Attica.

Who were Theseus’ parents?

Theseus was the product of an affair between Aegeus, the king of Athens, and Aethra, a princess of Troezen. But in some traditions, the sea god Poseidon slept with Aethra the same night as Aegeus, making Theseus his son instead.

Theseus was raised by his mother Aethra in Troezen. The identity of his father was kept secret until Theseus had proven himself worthy of his inheritance.

Theseus and Aethra by Laurent de La Hyre

Whom did Theseus marry?

Theseus had a weakness for women and was not always loyal to them. He eventually married Phaedra, a princess from Crete. Their marriage ended disastrously, however, when Phaedra fell passionately in love with Hippolytus, Theseus’ son by another consort.

Aside from Phaedra, Theseus had many lovers throughout his storied career. These included Phaedra’s own sister Ariadne; an Amazon queen named either Antiope or Hippolyta; and even the famous Helen, according to some traditions.

Ariadne by Asher Brown Durand, after John Vanderlyn

Ariadne by Asher Brown Durand, after John Vanderlyn (ca. 1831–1835)

How did Theseus die?

Like many Greek heroes, Theseus did not die happily. In the common tradition, he was exiled from Athens after his recklessness turned the city and its nobility against him. He traveled to the small island of Scyros, where he fell to his death from a cliff (or was thrown from the cliff by the local king).

Roman fresco of Theseus from Herculaneum

Roman fresco of Theseus from Herculaneum (ca. 45–79 CE)

Theseus Slays the Minotaur

Shortly after meeting his father Aegeus in Athens, Theseus voyaged to the island of Crete as one of the fourteen “tributes” sent annually as a sacrifice to the Minotaur—a half-man, half-bull hybrid imprisoned in the Labyrinth. Theseus vowed to kill the Minotaur and end the bloody custom once and for all.

In Crete, Theseus’ good looks won him the love of Ariadne, the daughter of the king. Ariadne helped Theseus on his mission by giving him a ball of thread that he unraveled as he made his way through the maze-like Labyrinth. After finding and killing the Minotaur, Theseus re-wound the thread to safely escape.

Theseus Slaying the Minotaur by Antoine-Louis Barye

Theseus Slaying the Minotaur by Antoine-Louis Barye (1843)

The name Theseus was likely derived from the Greek word θεσμός ( thesmos ), which means “institution.” Theseus’ name thus reflects his mythical role as a founder or reformer of the Athenian government.


In his iconography, Theseus is usually depicted as a handsome, strong, and beardless young hero. Theseus’ battle with the half-bull Minotaur was an especially popular theme in Greek art.

Theseus’ father was either Poseidon , the god of the sea, or Aegeus, the king of Athens. His mother was Aethra, the daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen.

Family Tree

Theseus was the son of Aethra, the daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen, and either Aegeus or Poseidon. Aegeus, who was the king of Athens, had no children and therefore no heir to his throne. Hoping to remedy this, Aegeus went to Delphi, where he received a strange prophecy:

The bulging mouth of the wineskin, O best of men, loose not until thou hast reached the height of Athens. [1]

On his way back to Athens, Aegeus stopped at Troezen, where he was entertained by King Pittheus. Aegeus revealed the prophecy to Pittheus, who understood its meaning and plied Aegeus with wine. Aegeus then slept with Pittheus’ daughter Aethra. 

Before leaving Troezen, Aegeus hid a sword and sandals under a large stone. He told Aethra that if she had a son, she should wait until he had grown up and bring him to the stone. If he managed to lift it and retrieve the tokens, he should be sent to Athens.

According to other versions, Aethra had also been seduced by the god Poseidon, and it was he who was Theseus’ father. [2] In any case, Theseus grew up to be a strong and intelligent young man. When he had come of age, his mother took him to the stone where Aegeus had long ago deposited his sword and sandals. Theseus successfully retrieved these tokens and left for Athens to find his father.

Journey to Athens

Instead of travelling to Athens by sea, Theseus decided to make a name for himself by taking the more dangerous overland route through the Greek Isthmus. At the time, it was plagued by bandits and monsters. On his way to Athens, Theseus cleared the Isthmus in what are sometimes called the “Six Labors of Theseus”:

At Epidaurus, Theseus met Periphetes, famous for slaughtering travellers with a giant club. Theseus killed Periphetes and claimed the club for himself.

Theseus then met Sinis, who would bend two pine trees to the ground, tie a traveller between the bent trees, and then let the trees go, thus tearing apart the traveller’s limbs. Theseus killed Sinis using this same method. He then seduced Sinis’ daughter Perigone, who later gave birth to a son named Melanippus.

Theseus next killed the monstrous Crommyonian Sow (sometimes called Phaea), [3] an enormous pig that terrorized travellers.

Near Megara, Theseus met the robber Sciron, who would throw his victims off a cliff. Theseus, as usual, used his opponent’s method against him and threw Sciron off a cliff.

At Eleusis, Theseus fought Cerycon , who challenged travellers to a wrestling match and killed whomever he defeated. Following this model, Theseus wrestled Cerycon, beat him, and killed him.

Finally, Theseus defeated Procrustes (sometimes called Damastes), who had two beds that he would offer to travellers. If the traveller was too tall to fit in the bed, Procrustes would cut off their limbs; if they were too short, he would stretch them until they fit. Theseus killed Procrustes by putting him on one of his beds, cutting off his legs, and then decapitating him.

Arrival at Athens

After clearing the Isthmus, Theseus finally arrived at Athens. He did not, however, reveal himself to his father Aegeus immediately. Aegeus became suspicious of the stranger and consulted Medea , whom he had married after sleeping with Aethra. 

Medea realized that Theseus was the son of Aegeus, but she did not want Aegeus to recognize him. She was afraid he would choose Theseus as his heir over her own son. Medea therefore tried to trick her husband into killing Theseus. 

In some stories, Medea convinced Aegeus to send Theseus to slay the monstrous Bull of Marathon, hoping that the bull would kill him first.

Theseus fighting the bull of Marathon kylix, circa 440-430 bce

Painting in tondo of kylix showing Theseus fighting the Bull of Marathon by unknown artist (c. 440–430 BC).

In other stories, Medea tried to poison Theseus. But Aegeus recognized Theseus by the sword he was carrying (the sword he had left with Aethra at Troezen) and stopped him from drinking the poison. Medea fled into exile.

Medea was not the only threat to Theseus’ standing in Athens. The sons of Aegeus’ brother Pallas (often called the Pallantides) had hoped to inherit the throne if their uncle Aegeus died childless. According to some sources, the sons of Pallas ambushed or rebelled against Theseus and Aegeus. This attempt failed, however, and after Theseus killed the sons of Pallas he was secured as the heir to the throne of Athens. [4]

The Minotaur

During Aegeus’ reign, the Athenians were forced to send a regular tribute of fourteen youths (seven boys and seven girls) to Minos , the king of the island of Crete. This was reparation for the murder of Minos’ son Androgeus in Athens several years before.

When the fourteen tributes reached Crete, they were fed to the Minotaur, a terrible bull-man hybrid born from an affair between a divine bull and Minos’ wife Pasiphae: 

A mingled form and hybrid birth of monstrous shape, ... Two different natures, man and bull, were joined in him. [5]

The Minotaur was imprisoned in the Labyrinth, a giant maze built by the Athenian architect Daedalus. None of the tributes who were sent into the Labyrinth ever made it out. 

Soon after his arrival in Athens, Theseus sailed off as one of the fourteen tributes dedicated to the Minotaur. According to some traditions, Theseus actually volunteered to go to Crete, vowing that he would kill the Minotaur and bring an end to the terrible tribute once and for all. [6]

The ship on which he and the other tributes embarked had a black sail; before the ship left for Crete, Aegeus made Theseus swear that if he managed to return alive he would have the black sail changed to a white one. 

At Crete, Minos’ daughter Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and agreed to help him kill the Minotaur if he would take her with him to Athens. Before Theseus entered the Labyrinth, Ariadne gave him a ball of thread. Theseus unravelled the thread as he moved through the Labyrinth, killed the Minotaur, and found his way out of the Labyrinth by following the thread back to the exit. Theseus and Ariadne then escaped from Crete with the other tributes.

Aison cup showing the victory of Theseus over the Minotaur in the presence of Athena

Detail of the Aison cup showing Theseus slaying the Minotaur in the presence of Athena (c. 435–415 BC).

On their journey back to Athens, Theseus stopped at the island of Naxos. There are different versions of what happened to Ariadne there. According to some, Theseus simply abandoned her. Another well-known story, however, claims that Dionysus fell in love with Ariadne while she was on Crete and carried her off for himself. In any case, Theseus arrived at Athens without Ariadne. [7]

Ariadne weeping as revenge points towards Theseus ship, Roman fresco

Ariadne weeps as Theseus' ship leaves her on the island of Naxos. Roman fresco from Pompeii at Naples Archaeological Museum.

Whether distracted by the loss of Ariadne or for some other reason, Theseus forgot to raise the white flag as he came back to Athens. Aegeus, who was watching from a tower, saw the black flag and thought that his son had died.

Overcome by grief, Aegeus killed himself by leaping into the sea (this is the origin, according to the Greeks, of the name of the “Aegean Sea”). Theseus arrived to find his father dead and so became king of Athens.

The Amazons

Like many heroes of Greek mythology, Theseus waged war with the Amazons . The Amazons were a fierce race of warrior women who lived near the Black Sea or the Caucasus. Their queens were said to be the daughters of the war god Ares . 

While among the Amazons, Theseus fell in love with their queen, Antiope (sometimes called Hippolyta), [8] and carried her off with him to Athens. The Amazons then attacked Athens in an attempt to get Antiope back. In some versions of the myth, the Amazons laid waste to the countryside of Attica and only left after Antiope was accidentally killed in battle. [9]  

In other versions, Theseus tried to abandon Antiope so that he could marry Phaedra, a princess from Crete; when the jilted Antiope tried to stop the wedding, Theseus killed her himself. [10] In all versions of the story, however, Theseus finally managed to drive the Amazons away from Athens after the death of Antiope, though only after Antiope had given him a son named Hippolytus.

After the death of Antiope, Theseus married Phaedra, the daughter of the Cretan king Minos and thus the sister of his former lover Ariadne. Phaedra bore Theseus two children, Acamas and Demophon . 

Mosaic showing Phaedra and Hippolytus, circa 3rd century ce

Roman mosaic of Phaedra and Hippolytus at House of Dionysus, Cyprus (ca. 3rd century CE).

Eventually, however, Phaedra fell in love with Hippolytus, the son of Theseus’ first wife, Antiope. Phaedra tried to convince Hippolytus to sleep with her. When he refused, Phaedra tore her clothing and falsely claimed that Hippolytus had raped her. Theseus was furious and prayed to Poseidon that Hippolytus might be punished.

Poseidon, unfortunately, heard Theseus’ prayer and sent a bull from the sea to charge Hippolytus as he was riding his chariot near the coast. Hippolytus’ horses were frightened; he lost control of the chariot, became entangled in the reins, and was trampled to death.

Theseus discovered his son’s innocence too late; Phaedra, ashamed and guilty, hanged herself. [11]  

Abduction of Helen and Persephone

Theseus took part in several other adventures. Some sources include him among the Argonauts who sailed with Jason to retrieve the Golden Fleece, or with the heroes who took part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt. 

In many of these adventures, Theseus was accompanied by his best friend Pirithous , the king of the Lapiths of northern Greece. In one famous tradition, Theseus and Pirithous both vowed to marry daughters of Zeus. Theseus chose Helen, and Pirithous helped him abduct her from her father Tyndareus’ home in Sparta. 

Pirithous then chose Persephone as his bride, even though she was already married to Hades . Theseus left Helen in the care of his mother, Aethra, while he and Pirithous went to the Underworld to abduct Persephone. Predictably, this did not end well. Theseus and Pirithous were caught trying to abduct Persephone and trapped in the Underworld. 

While Theseus was away from Athens, Helen’s brothers, Castor and Polydeuces , retrieved her and took Aethra prisoner. Meanwhile, Theseus was eventually rescued from Hades by Heracles, but Pirithous remained trapped in eternal punishment for his impiety (in the most common version of the story). [12] When Theseus returned to Athens, he found that Helen was gone and that his mother had become her slave in Sparta.

Athenian Government and Death

Theseus was said to have been responsible for the synoikismos (“dwelling-together”), the political and cultural unification of the region of Attica under the rule of the city-state of Athens. In later times, some Athenians even traced the origins of democratic government to Theseus’ rule, even though Theseus was a king. Theseus was always seen as an important founding figure of Athenian history.

As an old man, Theseus fell out of favor in Athens. Driven into exile, he came to Scyrus, a small island in the Aegean Sea. It was in Scyrus that Theseus died. In some stories, he was thrown from a cliff by Lycomedes, the king of Scyrus. In 475 BCE, the Athenians claimed to have identified the remains of Theseus on Scyrus and brought them back to be reinterred in Athens.

Festivals and/or Holidays

The festival of Theseus, called the Theseia, was celebrated in Athens in the autumn. It was presided over by the Phytalidae, the hereditary priests of Theseus. The Phytalidae were said to have been the direct descendants of the fourteen tributes Theseus saved when he killed the Minotaur. [13] Little else is known of the festivals or worship of Theseus.

The hero-cult of Theseus was almost certainly concentrated solely in the city of Athens. The main sanctuary of Theseus, the Theseion, may have existed as early as the sixth century BCE. [14] It was most likely located at the center of Athens, in the vicinity of the Agora. Though the Theseion was probably the main center of Theseus’ hero-worship, little else is known about it, and there is still virtually no archaeological evidence of it. There were likely other sanctuaries of Theseus in Athens by the fourth century BCE.

Pop Culture

Theseus has had a rich afterlife in modern popular culture. The 2011 film Immortals is loosely based on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur; Theseus is portrayed by Henry Cavill. Theseus also features in the miniseries Helen of Troy (2003), in which he kidnaps Helen with his friend Pirithous. 

The myths of Theseus are also retold in many modern books and novels. Mary Renault’s critically acclaimed The King Must Die (1958) is a historicized retelling of Theseus’ early life and his battle with the Minotaur; its sequel, The Bull from the Sea (1962), deals with Theseus’ later career. The myth of Theseus and Antiope is also reimagined in Steven Pressfield’s novel Last of the Amazons (2002).

Jorge Luis Borges’ short story The House of Asterion (published in Spanish in 1947) presents an interesting variation on the myth of the Minotaur, told from the perspective of the Minotaur rather than Theseus. The myth of Theseus inspired Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy (2008–2010).

Theseus - Hero and King of the Athenians

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theseus greek god powers

Here is a quick look at Theseus, famed hero of Greece - and of many, many Greek-themed movies in recent years.

Theseus's Appearance: Theseus is a handsome, vigorous young man armed with a sword.

Symbol or Attributes of Theseus: His sword and sandals.

Theseus's Strengths: Brave, strong, clever, good with disguise.

Theseus's Weaknesses: May have been a bit deceptive with Ariadne. Forgetful.

Theseus's Parents: King Aegeus of Athens and Princess Aethra; however, on their wedding night, Princess Aethra wandered over to a nearby island and lay with Poseidon. Theseus was thought to have characteristics of both of his potential "fathers".

Theseus's Spouse: Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Later, possibly Ariadne before he abandoned her; later her sister Phaedra

Some Major Sites Associated with Theseus: Knossos, the Labyrinth of Crete, Athens

Theseus's Story

Theseus was the son of King Aegeus of Athens. Theseus grew up separately from his father, who had taken up with the magical Medea. Theseus, after many adventures at different gates of the Underworld and slaying a monstrous Cretan bull, giving him handy career experience for later, eventually ended up in Athens and was recognized by his father as his heir when he showed him his sword and sandals, retrieved from under a rock where Aegeus had hidden them when he left Aethra.

At that time, the Athenians put on a competition somewhat like the Olympian Games, and one of the sons of the powerful King Minos of Crete came to participate. Unfortunately, he won the Games, which the Athenians found to be in bad taste, so they killed him. King Minos wreaked revenge on Athens and ultimately demanded that seven youths and seven maidens would be sent periodically to Crete to be fed to the Minotaur, a half-man, half-bull beast who lived in the prison-like labyrinth. Theseus chose to put himself in the doomed group and went to Crete, where he formed an alliance with Princess Ariadne, entered the labyrinth with the help of a magical cord given him by Ariadne, fought and slew the Minotaur, and then fled with the princess. Something went wrong at that point - a storm? a change of heart? - and Ariadne was left on an island where she ended up being found by and married to the god Dionysos, an odd echo of Theseus' own odd parentage.

Theseus returned home to Greece but forgot that he had told his father that his boat would return with white sails if he were alive or black sails raised by his crew if he died in Crete. King Aegeus saw the ship returning, noted the black sails, and flung himself into the sea in sorrow - which is why the sea is called "The Aegean". Theseus went on to rule over Athens.

Interesting Facts About Theseus

Theseus is featured in the 2011 movie "The Immortals" which takes some liberties with the ancient myths.

Theseus is said to have built at least one temple to Aphrodite, so he did pay some heed to the Goddess of Love.

While the theme of abandoning the princess Ariadne is the most common in the ancient sources, one account says that Theseus kills her brothers and installs her as Queen Ariadne, leaving her to rule. Whatever actually happened, he eventually married her sister, Phaedra, with tragic results.

  • Top Worst Betrayals in Greek Mythology
  • Theseus, Great Hero of Greek Mythology
  • The Minotaur: Half Man, Half Bull Monster of Greek Mythology
  • The 10 Greatest Heroes of Greek Mythology
  • The Greek God Poseidon, King of the Sea
  • Mythical Creatures: The Monsters from Greek Mythology
  • Who Is Who in Greek Legend
  • The 12 Labors of Hercules
  • Theseus and Hippolyta
  • Top Special Animals in Greek Mythology
  • Political Aspects of the Classical Age of Greece
  • Formation of the Delian League
  • Wars of the Alexander the Great: Battle of Chaeronea
  • Shakespearean Love Concepts in 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
  • Major Figures in the Trojan War
  • The Peloponnesian War: Causes of the Conflict

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