Theseus is the son of Poseidon and Aethra, and he is most well-known for his defeat of the evil Minotaur, and reclaiming the city of Athens.

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Theseus was the son of Poseidon and Aethra, although King Aegeus believed Theseus to be his own. When Theseus was born, his mother Aethra took him into hiding to keep him safe from Pallas and his fifty sons. Theseus grew up knowing he was the son of a king, and after learning how to fight, he set out on the road to meet his father in Athens.

Along the way, Theseus faced challenges from four bandits: Corynetes, Sciron, Pityocamptes, and Procrustes. All four threatened Theseus with a form of violence. Theseus managed to outwit each man using his training and his intelligence, and he continued safely onto Athens where he met his father, King Aegeus.

Upon his arrival, Theseus’ frustration at his father’s situation spurred him to volunteer to go to Crete, where Athens offered the sacrifice of seven young maidens and young men each year to enter the Labyrinth to be killed by the Minotaur. Theseus bravely demanded King Minos give him the opportunity to kill the Minotaur, and swam to the bottom of the ocean to retrieve the king’s crown to prove he is Poseidon’s son. This only served Minos to declare that Theseus must face the Minotaur without any weapons. Minos’ daughter Ariadne was so taken with the young hero that she helped him by giving him a magic ball of thread to guide him in and out of the Labyrinth. Theseus confronted the Minotaur and used his brute strength and agility to break off a horn and spear it into the beast, killing it. Theseus left Crete with his new wife Ariadne, to sail back to Athens.

Theseus’ father had given him a white sail to put on his ship when he returned, so that he would know his son was safe. The king waited each day on a cliff, and finally saw an approaching ship with a black sail. Theseus forgot to put up the white sail because he was too caught up in his celebratory return. Thinking his son was dead, King Aegeus threw himself into the sea, which is now called the Aegean Sea. Theseus raised an army against his father’s cousin and sons and took control of Athens.

Theseus Hero Reference


Poseidon and Aethra

Notable Myths

  • The Road to Athens
  • The Minotaur
  • The Black Sail

Symbols / Attributes

  • Labyrinth
  • Magic ball of thread



Be sure to check out the lesson plans on Theseus!
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