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Theseus was born in southern Greece with his mother. His father, Aegeus however, was the King of Athens. Before Theseus was born, Aegeus left 2 gifts under a great stone, a sword and a pair of shoes. Before Aegeus went back to Athens, he told his wife that if his child was a boy and grew up to be big and strong, he could move the stone, take the gifts and return to Athens. Theseus did grow up to be big and strong so when the time came he moved the rock with ease. Theseus headed back for Athens. But unlike taking his mother's advice, he decided to make the journey on foot. Theseus wanted to become a hero like his cousin, Hercules and what better way to become a hero than to travel the perilous route to Athens.
Theseus finding the tools under the rock
The journey was long and very hazardous because of the bandits that beset the road. He killed them all, however. Theseus' idea of justice was do to the criminal, what he did to others. Sciron, for instance, who had made those who he captured wash his feet and then kick them down into the sea. Theseus threw him over a cliff. Procrustes, who thought that people too short, needed stretching and people who were too tall needed cutting. Theseus stretched and sliced. The countryside rang with praise.
Aegeus, King of Athens was getting afraid. What if Theseus' popularity brought him the crown of his land. When Theseus arrived in Athens, Aegeus invited him into his house to poison him but before Theseus could taste his wine he drew his sword and at once his father recognized him. Aegeus knocked the glass out of his son's hands and embraced him.
Several years before, Minos' son Androgeus visited Athens and Aegeus did what no host should do. He asked his guest to slay a bull but in the attempt he was killed. When Minos heard about his son he declared war on Athens. Crete won. Now, seven young men and seven young women had to journey to Athens each year to sacrifice themselves to the evil Minotaur.
When Theseus heard the story, he immediately decided to journey to Crete as one of the seven young men to slay the minotaur. His father naturally objected but Theseus eventually won the argument. The King of Athens asked one thing in return; that one the journey home from Crete, Theseus fly a white flag on the ship so that his father may know in advance, the state of his son.
Theseus journeyed to Crete. At the companies arrival, they were marched down the main street towards the labyrinth. The Minotaur dwelt within. During the parade, the princess of Crete saw Theseus and fell instantly in love with him. She met with him after and promised to help Theseus if he took her back to Athens. He did and in return she provided him with a ball of string so he could find his way free of the labyrinth.
Theseus entered the labyrinth and started searching for the Minotaur. He found the Minotaur sleeping and jumped on it beating it with his fists. Theseus returned to his feet but the Minotaur didn't. Theseus found his ball of string and fled from the labyrinth and Crete.
Theseus killing the Minotaur
Upon his return, his ship ran into some bad weather and had to stop at an Island. When they left the Island, they accidentally forgot the princess. When they returned, they found her dead. Theseus was so distraught over his mistake that when the ship approached Athens Theseus forgot to raise a white flag. Aegeus was standing on the walls of his castle watching for the ship so when he notice the ship without a white flag, he gave out a mighty cry and leapt to his death.
Theseus became King and the greatest King Athens has ever seen for he resigned his seat so that a council might reign in his stead. He made Athens the first city where the people actually ruled themselves.
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