Theseus is one of the great heroes of Greek mythology. His exploits demonstrate his intelligence, sense of justice, and great physical skill. Theseus is thought to be the one who united Attica (region of Greece where Athens is), showing him to be a great king and politician. Civilization conquering barbarism and unnaturalness was an important theme for the city of Athens, so of course her greatest hero would bring justice, and order to the world. Theseus is truly the perfect hero for Athens, the center of ancient Greek culture and academics.
Theseus learns that after a war with Crete, Athens must pay tribute to Minos in Crete by sending young Athenians to be devoured in the Labyrinth.
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Theseus does not refuse the call. He volunteers to join the Athenian youths who are to go to Crete.
His father plays the role of a mentor who worries about Theseus. Aegeas makes Theseus promise he will show that his mission was successful by sailing home with white sails.
Theseus leaves Athens and crosses the sea to the island of Crete.
Ariadne falls in love with Theseus and decides to help him. At the suggestion of Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth, Ariadne provides Theseus with a sword and spool of thread to find his way back through the Labyrinth.
Theseus enters the Labyrinth. He must travel through the complex maze devised by Daedalus.
Theseus battles with and slays the Minotaur. He uses the thread to make his way out of the Labyrinth.
Theseus rescues the young Athenians and takes Ariadne on the boat bound for Greece.
The ship makes a stop at the island of Naxos, and Ariadne is left behind.
Atonement doesn't fit well with Theseus' story. If anything, this is the opposite of atonement. Theseus forgets to change the sail from black to white to show he had survived. In grief, his father commits suicide.
Theseus returns to Athens to find that his father has died. He is now the new king of Athens.