Once there was a young boy named Theseus. Nobody knew who his father was, for both King Aegeus of Athens and Poseidon had been fond of his mother Aethra. Right before Theseus was born Aegeus said to Aethra, "If we shall have a son, when he is old enough tell him to lift this rock and take my sword and sandals from under it." Then Aegeus placed both his sword and his sandals under a large boulder and then set sail for Athens.
Now this all happened in a small town called Troezen where Theseus grew into a strong young man. When Aethra thought it was time she took Theseus to the large boulder and told him to lift it. Theseus wrapped his mighty arms around the boulder lifted it as if it were paper. Then he threw the boulder into a nearby forest. Aethra then told him to take the sword and sandals and go to Athens.
Theseus Journeys to Athens
Aethra and her father begged Theseus to go to Athens by sea, for horrible robbers and bandits inhabited the road, but Theseus was bold and went overland. After a few miles he met a large man with a shiny club. "I am Periphetes the cudgel man and I'm going to bash you're head with this club," he said. "That's a mighty fine club you have there," replied Theseus.
"I bet it isn't."
"Yes it is."
"It's just wood wrapped in brass."
"Here, look at it to make sure."
Periphetes handed the club to Theseus. Theseus knocked Periphetes in the side of the head with it. "Not bad," thought Theseus, "not bad at all. I think I'll keep this."
Theseus started walking again. Not much farther he saw giant man holding a battle-ax on the side of the road. "I am Sciron and these are my cliffs. To pass you must wash my feet as a toll!" the man said. "What would happen if I didn't?" replied Theseus. "I will chop of your head with this ax, and don't think that puny little twig you're carrying will save you, you're absolutely...WRONG!!!!" Sciron yelled. So Theseus sat down and started to wash Sciron's feet. Theseus looked over the side of the cliff, there was a monstrous turtle at the bottom. Then Theseus knew that this was the Sciron that kicked people off the cliff where a man-eating turtle waited. When Sciron's foot came towards him, Theseus jerked aside and hurled Sciron off the cliff.
Theseus walked a ways longer until he saw a man that looked remarkably like Sciron. The man said, "Could you do me a favor young man? Hold this pine tree down for me." The man's name was Sinis the pine-bender. Sinis bent a pine tree down and waited for Theseus to hold the tree down with him. Then Sinis let go! He was expecting Theseus to be catapulted in the air, but Theseus held it down. Sinis stooped down to get a better look at the tree, thinking that it had broken. Theseus let go of the tree. It hit Sinis in the chin knocking him unconscious. Theseus then tied Sinis' legs to one bent pine tree, his arms to another. Then Theseus let go, the trees ripped Sinis in half. Vultures screamed with delight.
Theseus went on his way again. After a few miles it got dark. Theseus saw a large house up ahead of him. He decided to ask the owner for a bed for the night. He walked up to the door and knocked. A man came to the door and said, "Welcome young man. Come in, you look tired. My name is Procustes. I have a magic bed for you to stay the night on. It is exactly six feet long, but can fit anyone, be they short or tall." Theseus had been warned about a man named Procustes. His so called "magic" bed did fit anyone, but in an unpleasant way. If you were to short he would fasten chains on to your arms and legs and stretch you. If you were too tall he would chop of your legs until you were just right. Procustes led Theseus into the room where the bed was. Theseus pushed Procustes on to the bed and chopped off his legs. So Procustes wouldn't feel pain Theseus sliced his head off to.
The next morning Theseus reached Athens. It was the largest city he had ever seen. He went to the castle where Aegeus lived. Aegeus had married Medea who (being a sorceress) had him under her power. With her powers Medea recognized Theseus and knew that he would get rid of her. So she told Aegeus that Theseus had come to kill him and that she would give Theseus poisoned wine. Aegeus-not knowing that Theseus was his son-agreed. Aegeus invited Theseus to a banquet. When Theseus was just about to drink his wine Aegeus recognized the sword and dashed the wine cup to the floor. Theseus and Aegeus were filled with happiness. Medea left in a chariot drawn by dragons.
Theseus Journeys to Minos
Theseus and Aegeus were happy for a long time, but when the time of the spring equinox came all the Athenians became mournful as a ship with black sail approached Athens. Theseus begged his father to tell him why the Athenians were sad, but Aegeus said nothing.
Theseus went down to the harbor and asked the captain of the black-sailed ship what was happening. The captain told him about how King Minos of Crete's eldest son Androgeus had accidentally been killed in Athens. Minos was very angry. He attacked Athens and demanded that the Athenians pay a yearly tribute of seven young man and seven young women to be fed to the Minotaur. The Minotaur was half man and half bull. It lived in the Labyrinth, a large maze that once one is in he or she will be aimlessly lost in it's many tunnels.
Theseus went back to Aegeus and said, "I will go to Crete as one of the victims and I will slay the Minotaur!" "No my son," said Aegeus, "you mustn't go. You are my only son. The only heir to the throne." "I must go father. I must prove that I am a hero." said Theseus. In the end Aegeus let Theseus go, but made him promise that if he return alive, to change the sails from black to white. So Theseus volunteered to go as one of the fourteen victims.
When Theseus and his companions landed at Crete, Minos was there to welcome them. He asked each who they were. When it came to Theseus' turn he said, "I am Theseus, prince of Athens, son of Poseidon!" To this Minos replied, "If you were the prince of Athens wouldn't old Aegeus be your father. To prove you are son of Poseidon fetch my ring." Minos threw his ring into the sea. Praying to Poseidon Theseus dived into the water. He saw the nymph Thetis who gave him the ring and an old crown. Theseus came to the surface holding the ring and the crown. Minos laughed.
That night Theseus was visited by Minos' daughter Ariadne. She said to him, "Theseus, I have decided to help you kill the Minotaur if you will take me back to Athens and make me your queen." Theseus was glad of the help and promised to Ariadne that he would take her back to Athens. She gave Theseus a ball of silk thread and told him to tie it to the entrance of the Labyrinth and unwind it as he went. The string would lead him back to the entrance.
The next day Theseus and his companions were forced into the Labyrinth. Theseus tied the string onto a rock and told everyone to follow him. He led them towards the center of the Labyrinth where the Minotaur was. When they got there they saw the beast sleeping. Theseus jumped on it and ripped of one of it's horns. Theseus started poking at the Minotaur (who was very angry) with the horn. Then Theseus ran to a safer distance and threw the horn like a javelin. The horn ripped into the monsters neck and stuck there. The Minotaur now enraged charged at Theseus, but fell dead before it was half way. Everyone cheered. Theseus was a hero! They followed the thread back to the entrance of the Labyrinth.
Theseus, Ariadne, and the others went on board the black-sailed ship and set sail for Athens. One night the god Dionysus came to Theseus and said, "You mustn't marry Princess Ariadne for I have chosen her as my own bride. Leave her on the island of Naxos." Theseus did as the god told him. He was so sad, he forgot to change the sails from black to white. Old Aegeus sat on a cliff watching and waiting for Theseus to come, but when he saw the black sails he jumped into the sea. That fatal stretch of water was named after him. It still is called the Aegean.