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By Plutarch

Translated by John Dryden

As geographers, Sosius, crowd into the edges of their maps parts
of the world which they do not know about, adding notes in the margin
to the effect, that beyond this lies nothing but the sandy deserts
full of wild beasts, unapproachable bogs, Scythian ice, or a frozen
sea, so in this work of mine, in which I have compared the lives of
the greatest men with one another, after passing through those periods
which probable reasoning can reach to and real history find a footing
in, I might very well say of those that are farther off: "Beyond this
there is nothing but prodigies and fictions, the only inhabitants
are the poets and inventors of fables; there is no credit, or certainty
any farther." Yet, after publishing an account of Lycurgus the lawgiver
and Numa the king, I thought I might, not without reason, ascend as
high as to Romulus, being brought by my history so near to his time.
Considering therefore with myself- 

"Whom shall I set so great a man to face? 
Or whom oppose? Who's equal to the place?" (as Aeschylus expresses
it), I found none so fit as him that peopled the beautiful and far-famed
city of Athens, to be set in opposition with the father of the invincible
and renowned city of Rome. Let us hope that Fable may, in what shall
follow, so submit to the purifying processes of Reason as to take
the character of exact history. In any case, however, where it shall
be found contumaciously slighting credibility and refusing to be reduced
to anything like probable fact, we shall beg that we may meet with
candid readers, and such as will receive with indulgence the stories
of antiquity. 

Theseus seemed to me to resemble Romulus in many particulars. Both
of them, born out of wedlock and of uncertain parentage, had the repute
of being sprung from the gods. 

"Both warriors; that by all the world's allowed." Both of them united
with strength of body an equal vigour of mind; and of the two most
famous cities of the world, the one built Rome, and the other made
Athens be inhabited. Both stand charged with the rape of women; neither
of them could avoid domestic misfortunes nor jealousy at home; but
towards the close of their lives are both of them said to have incurred
great odium with their countrymen, if, that is, we may take the stories
least like poetry as our guide to the truth. 

The lineage of Theseus, by his father's side, ascends as high as to
Erectheus and the first inhabitants of Attica. By his mother's side
he was descended of Pelops. For Pelops was the most powerful of all
the kings of Peloponnesus, not so much by the greatness of his riches
as the multitude of his children, having married many daughters to
chief men, and put many sons in places of command in the towns round
about him. One of whom named Pittheus, grandfather to Theseus, was
governor of the small city of the Troezenians and had the repute of
a man of the greatest knowledge and wisdom of his time; which then,
it seems, consisted chiefly in grave maxims, such as the poet Hesiod
got his great fame by, in his book of Works and Days. And, indeed,
among these is one that they ascribe to Pittheus,- 

"Unto a friend suffice 
A stipulated price;" which, also, Aristotle mentions. And Euripides,
by calling Hippolytus "scholar of the holy Pittheus," shows the opinion
that the world had of him. Aegeus, being desirous of children, and
consulting the oracle of Delphi, received the celebrated answer which
forbade him the company of any woman before his return to Athens.
But the oracle being so obscure as not to satisfy him that he was
clearly forbid this, he went to Troezen, and communicated to Pittheus
the voice of the god, which was in this manner,- 

"Loose not the wine-skin foot, thou chief of men, 
Until to Athens thou art come again." 

Pittheus, therefore, taking advantage from the obscurity of the oracle,
prevailed upon him, it is uncertain whether by persuasion or deceit,
to lie with his daughter Aethra. Aegeus afterwards, knowing her whom
he had lain with to be Pittheus's daughter, and suspecting her to
be with child by him, left a sword and a pair of shoes, hiding them
under a great stone that had a hollow in it exactly fitting them;
and went away making her only privy to it, and commanding her, if
she brought forth a son who, when he came to man's estate, should
be able to lift up the stone and take away what he had left there,
she should send him way to him with those things with all secrecy,
and with injunctions to him as much as possible to conceal his journey
from every one; for he greatly feared the Pallantidae, who were continually
mutinying against him, and despised him for his want of children,
they themselves being fifty brothers, all sons of Pallas.

When Aethra was delivered of a son, some say that he was immediately
named Theseus, from the tokens which his father had put under the
stone; others that he had received his name afterwards at Athens,
when Aegeus acknowledged him for his son. He was brought up under
his grandfather Pittheus, and had a tutor and attendant set over him
named Connidas, to whom the Athenians even to this time, the day before
the feast that is dedicated to Theseus, sacrifice a ram, giving this
honour to his memory upon much juster grounds than to Silanio and
Parrhasius for making, pictures and statues of Theseus. There being
then a custom for the Grecian youth, upon their first coming to man's
estate, to go to Delphi and offer first-fruits of their hair to the
god, Theseus also went thither, and a place there to this day is yet
named Thesea, as it is said, from him. He clipped only the fore part
of his head, as Homer says the Abantes did. And this sort of tonsure
was from him named Theseus. The Abantes first used it, not in imitation
of the Arabians, as some imagine, nor of the Mysians, but because
they were a warlike people, and used to close fighting, and above
all other nations accustomed to engage hand to hand; as Archilochus
testifies in these verses:- 

"Slings shall not whirl, nor many arrows fly, 
When on the plain the battle joins; but swords, 
Man against man, the deadly conflict try 
As is the practice of Euboea's lords 
Skilled with the spear.-" 

Therefore that they might not give their enemies a hold by their hair,
they cut it in this manner. They write also that this was the reason
why Alexander gave command to his captains that all the beards of
the Macedonians should be shaved, as being the readiest hold for an

Aethra for some time concealed the true parentage of Theseus, and
a report was given out by Pittheus that he was begotten by Neptune;
for the Troezenians pay Neptune the highest veneration. He is their
tutelar god; to him they offer all their first-fruits, and in his
honour stamp their money with a trident. 

Theseus displaying not only great strength of body, but equal bravery,
and a quickness alike and force of understanding, his mother Aethra
conducting him to the stone, and informing him who was his true father,
commanded him to take from thence the tokens that Aegeus had left,
and sail to Athens. He without any difficulty set himself to the stone
and lifted it up; but refused to take his journey by sea, though it
was much the safer way, and though his mother and grandfather begged
him to do so. For it was at that time very dangerous to go by land
on the road to Athens, no part of it being free from robbers and murderers.
That age produced a sort of men, in force of hand, and swiftness of
foot, and strength of body, excelling the ordinary rate and wholly
incapable of fatigue; making use, however, of these gifts of nature
to no good or profitable purpose for mankind, but rejoicing and priding
themselves in insolence, and taking the benefit of their superior
strength in the exercise of inhumanity and cruelty, and in seizing,
forcing, and committing all manner of outrages upon everything that
fell into their hands; all respect for others, all justice, they thought,
all equity and humanity, though naturally lauded by common people,
either out of want of courage to commit injuries or fear to receive
them, yet no way concerned those who were strong enough to win for
themselves. Some of these, Hercules destroyed and cut off in his passage
through these countries; but some escaping his notice while he was
passing by, fled and hid themselves, or else were spared by him in
contempt of their abject submission: and after that Hercules fell
into misfortune, and, having slain Iphitus, retired to Lydia, and
for a long time was there slave to Omphale, a punishment which he
had imposed upon himself for the murder: then, indeed, Lydia enjoyed
high peace and security, but in Greece and the countries about it
the like villainies again revived and broke out, there being none
to repress or chastise them. It was therefore a very hazardous journey
to travel by land from Athens to Peloponnesus; and Pittheus giving
him an exact account of each of the robbers and villains, their strength,
and the cruelty they used to all strangers, tried to persuade Theseus
to go by sea. But he, it seems, had long since been secretly fired
by the glory of Hercules, held him in the highest estimation, and
was never more satisfied than in listening to any that gave an account
of him; especially those that had seen him or had been present at
any action or saying of his. So that he was altogether in the same
state of feeling as, in after ages, Themistocles was, when he said
that he could not sleep for the trophy of Miltiades; entertaining
such admiration for the virtue of Hercules, that in the night his
dreams were all of that hero's actions, and in the day a continual
emulation stirred him up to perform the like. Besides, they were related,
being born of cousins-german. For Aethra was daughter of Pittheus,
and Alcmena of Lysidice; and Lysidice and Pittheus were brother and
sister, children of Hippodamia and Pelops. He thought it therefore
a dishonourable thing, and not to be endured, that Hercules should
go out everywhere, and purge both land and sea from wicked men, and
he himself should fly from the like adventures that actually came
in his way; disgracing his reputed father by a mean flight by sea,
and not showing his true one as good evidence of the greatness of
his birth by noble and worthy actions, as by the token that he brought
with him the shoes and the sword. 

With this mind and these thoughts, he set forward with a design to
do injury to nobody, but to repel and revenge himself of all those
that should offer any. And first of all, in a set combat, he slew
Periphetes, in the neighbourhood of Epidaurus, who used a club for
his arms, and from thence had the name of Corynetes, or the club-bearer;
who seized upon him, and forbade him to go forward in his journey.
Being pleased with the club, he took it, and made it his weapon, continuing
to use it as Hercules did the lion's skin, on whose shoulders that
served to prove how huge a beast he had killed; and to the same end
Theseus carried about him this club; overcome indeed by him, but now
in his hands, invincible. 

Passing on further towards the Isthmus of Peloponnesus, he slew Sinnis,
often surnamed the Bender of Pines, after the same manner in which
he himself had destroyed many others before. And this he did without
having either practised or ever learnt the art of bending these trees,
to show that natural strength is above all art. This Sinnis had a
daughter of remarkable beauty and stature, called Perigune, who, when
her father was killed, fled, and was sought after everywhere by Theseus;
and coming into a place overgrown with brushwood, shrubs, and asparagus-thorn,
there, in a childlike innocent manner, prayed and begged them, as
if they understood her, to give her shelter, with vows that if she
escaped she would never cut them down nor burn them. But Theseus calling
upon her, and giving her his promise that he would use her with respect,
and offer her no injury, she came forth, and in due time bore him
a son, named Melanippus; but afterwards was married to Deioneus, the
son of Eurytus, the Oechalian, Theseus himself giving her to him.
Ioxus, the son of this Melanippus, who was born to Theseus, accompanied
Ornytus in the colony that he carried with him into Caria, whence
it is a family usage amongst the people called Ioxids, both male and
female, never to burn either shrubs or asparagus-thorn, but to respect
and honour them. 

The Crommyonian sow, which they called Phaea, was a savage and formidable
wild beast, by no means an enemy to be despised. Theseus killed her,
going out of his way on purpose to meet and engage her, so that he
might not seem to perform all his great exploits out of mere necessity;
being also of opinion that it was the part of a brave man to chastise
villainous and wicked men when attacked by them, but to seek out and
overcome the more noble wild beasts. Others relate that Phaea was
a woman, a robber full of cruelty and lust, that lived in Crommyon,
and had the name of Sow given her from the foulness of her life and
manners, and afterwards was killed by Theseus. He slew also Sciron,
upon the borders of Megara, casting him down from the rocks, being,
as most report, a notorious robber of all passengers, and, as others
add, accustomed, out of insolence and wantonness, to stretch forth
his feet to strangers commanding them to wash them, and then while
they did it, with a kick to send them down the rock into the sea.
The writers of Megara, however, in contradiction to the received report,
and, as Simonides expresses it, "fighting with all antiquity," contend
that Sciron was neither a robber nor doer of violence, but a punisher
of all such, and the relative and friend of good and just men; for
Aeacus, they say, was ever esteemed a man of the greatest sanctity
of all the Greeks; and Cychreus, the Salaminian, was honoured at Athens
with divine worship; and the virtues of Peleus and Telamon were not
unknown to any one. Now Sciron was son-in-law to Cychreus, father-in-law
to Aeacus, and grandfather to Peleus and Telamon, who were both of
them sons of Endeis, the daughter of Sciron and Chariclo; it was not
probable, therefore, that the best of men should make these alliances
with one who was worst, giving and receiving mutually what was of
greatest value and most dear to them. Theseus, by their account, did
not slay Sciron in his first journey to Athens, but afterwards, when
he took Eleusis, a city of the Megarians, having circumvented Diocles,
the governor. Such are the contradictions in this story. In Eleusis
he killed Cercyon, the Arcadian, in a wrestling match. And going on
a little farther, in Erineus, he slew Damastes, otherwise called Procrustes,
forcing his body to the size of his own bed, as he himself was used
to do with all strangers; this he did in imitation of Hercules, who
always returned upon his assailants the same sort of violence that
they offered to him; sacrificed Busiris, killed Antaeus in wrestling,
and Cycnus in single combat, and Termerus by breaking his skull in
pieces (whence, they say, comes the proverb of "a Termerian mischief"),
for it seems Termerus killed passengers that he met by running with
his head against them. And so also Theseus proceeded in the punishment
of evil men, who underwent the same violence from him which they had
inflicted upon others, justly suffering after the manner of their
own injustice. 

As he went forward on his journey, and was come as far as the river
Cephisus, some of the race of the Phytalidae met him and saluted him,
and upon his desire to use the purifications, then in custom, they
performed them with all the usual ceremonies, and, having offered
propitiatory sacrifices to the gods, invited him and entertained him
at their house, a kindness which, in all his journey hitherto, he
had not met. 

On the eighth day of Cronius, now called Hecatombaeon, he arrived
at Athens, where he found the public affairs full of all confusion,
and divided into parties and factions, Aegeus also, and his whole
private family, labouring under the same distemper; for Medea, having
fled from Corinth, and promised Aegeus to make him, by her art, capable
of having children, was living with him. She first was aware of Theseus,
whom as yet Aegeus did not know, and he being in years, full of jealousies
and suspicions, and fearing everything by reason of the faction that
was then in the city, she easily persuaded him to kill him by poison
at a banquet, to which he was to be invited as a stranger. He, coming
to the entertainment, thought it not fit to discover himself at once,
but willing to give his father the occasion of first finding him out,
the meat being on the table, he drew his sword as if he designed to
cut with it; Aegeus, at once recognising the token, threw down the
cup of poison, and, questioning his son, embraced him, and having
gathered together all his citizens, owned him publicly before them,
who, on their part, received him gladly for the fame of his greatness
and bravery; and it is said, that when the cup fell, the poison was
spilt there where now is the enclosed space in the Delphinium; for
in that place stood Aegeus's house, and the figure of Mercury on the
east side of the temple is called the Mercury of Aegeus's gate.

The sons of Pallas, who before were quiet upon expectation of recovering
the kingdom after Aegeus's death, who was without issue, as soon as
Theseus appeared and was acknowledged the successor, highly resenting
that Aegeus first, an adopted son only of Pandion, and not at all
related to the family of Erechtheus, should be holding the kingdom,
and that after him, Theseus, a visitor and stranger, should be destined
to succeed to it, broke out into open war. And dividing themselves
into two companies, one part of them marched openly from Sphettus,
with their father, against the city, the other, hiding themselves
in the village of Gargettus, lay in ambush, with a design to set upon
the enemy on both sides. They had with them a crier of the township
of Agnus, named Leos, who discovered to Theseus all the designs of
the Pallantidae. He immediately fell upon those that lay in ambuscade,
and cut them all off; upon tidings of which Pallas and his company
fled and were dispersed. 

From hence they say is derived the custom among the people of the
township of Pallene to have no marriages or any alliance with the
people of Agnus, nor to suffer the criers to pronounce in their proclamations
the words used in all other parts of the country, Acouete Leoi (Hear
ye people), hating the very sound of Leo, because of the treason of

Theseus, longing to be in action, and desirous also to make himself
popular, left Athens to fight with the bull of Marathon, which did
no small mischief to the inhabitants of Tetrapolis. And having overcome
it, he brought it alive in triumph through the city, and afterwards
sacrificed it to the Delphinian Apollo. The story of Hecale, also,
of her receiving and entertaining Theseus in this expedition, seems
to be not altogether void of truth; for the townships round about,
meeting upon a certain day, used to offer a sacrifice which they called
Hecalesia, to Jupiter Hecaleius, and to pay honour to Hecale, whom,
by a diminutive name, they called Hecalene, because she, while entertaining
Theseus, who was quite a youth, addressed him, as old people do, with
similar endearing diminutives; and having made a vow to Jupiter for
him as he was going to the fight, that, if he returned in safety,
she would offer sacrifices in thanks of it, and dying before he came
back, she had these honours given her by way of return for her hospitality,
by the command of Theseus, as Philochorus tells us. 

Not long after arrived the third time from Crete the collectors of
the tribute which the Athenians paid them upon the following occasion.
Androgeus having been treacherously murdered in the confines of Attica,
not only Minos, his father, put the Athenians to extreme distress
by a perpetual war, but the gods also laid waste their country; both
famine and pestilence lay heavy upon them, and even their rivers were
dried up. Being told by the oracle that, if they appeased and reconciled
Minos, the anger of the gods would cease and they should enjoy rest
from the miseries they laboured under, they sent heralds, and with
much supplication were at last reconciled, entering into an agreement
to send to Crete every nine years a tribute of seven young men and
as many virgins, as most writers agree in stating; and the most poetical
story adds, that the Minotaur destroyed them, or that, wandering in
the labyrinth, and finding no possible means of getting out, they
miserably ended their lives there; and that this Minotaur was (as
Euripides hath it)- 

"A mingled form where two strange shapes combined, 
And different natures, bull and man, were joined." But Philochorus
says that the Cretans will by no means allow the truth of this, but
say that the labyrinth was only an ordinary prison, having no other
bad quality but that it secured the prisoners from escaping, and that
Minos, having instituted games in honour of Androgeus, gave, as a
reward to the victors, these youths, who in the meantime were kept
in the labyrinth; and that the first that overcame in those games
was one of the greatest power and command among them, named Taurus,
a man of no merciful or gentle disposition, who treated the Athenians
that were made his prize in a proud and cruel manner. Also Aristotle
himself, in the account that he gives of the form of government of
the Bottiaeans, is manifestly of opinion that the youths were not
slain by Minos, but spent the remainder of their days in slavery in
Crete; that the Cretans, in former times, to acquit themselves of
an ancient vow which they had made, were used to send an offering
of the first-fruits of their men to Delphi, and that some descendants
of these Athenian slaves were mingled with them and sent amongst them,
and, unable to get their living there, removed from thence, first
into Italy, and settled about Japygia; from thence again, that they
removed to Thrace, and were named Bottiaeans; and that this is the
reason why, in a certain sacrifice, the Bottiaean girls sing a hymn
beginning Let us go to Athens. This may show us how dangerous it is
to incur the hostility of a city that is mistress of eloquence and
song. For Minos was always ill spoken of, and represented ever as
a very wicked man, in the Athenian theatres; neither did Hesiod avail
him by calling him "the most royal Minos," nor Homer, who styles him
"Jupiter's familiar friend;" the tragedians got the better, and from
the vantage ground of the stage showered down obloquy upon him, as
a man of cruelty and violence; whereas, in fact, he appears to have
been a king and a law-giver, and Rhadamanthus, a judge under him,
administering the statutes that he ordained. 

Now, when the time of the third tribute was come, and the fathers
who had any young men for their sons were to proceed by lot to the
choice of those that were to be sent, there arose fresh discontents
and accusations against Aegeus among the people, who were full of
grief and indignation that he who was the cause of all their miseries
was the only person exempt from the punishment; adopting and settling
his kingdom upon a bastard and foreign son, he took no thought, they
said, of their destitution and loss, not of bastards, but lawful children.
These things sensibly affected Theseus, who, thinking it but just
not to disregard, but rather partake of, the sufferings of his fellow-citizens,
offered himself for one without any lot. All else were struck with
admiration for the nobleness and with love for the goodness of the
act; and Aegeus, after prayers and entreaties, finding him inflexible
and not to be persuaded, proceeded to the choosing of the rest by
lot. Hellanicus, however, tells us that the Athenians did not send
the young men and virgins by lot, but that Minos himself used to come
and make his own choice, and pitched upon Theseus before all others;
according to the conditions agreed upon between them, namely, that
the Athenians should furnish them with a ship and that the young men
that were to sail with him should carry no weapons of war; but that
if the Minotaur was destroyed, the tribute should cease.

On the two former occasions of the payment of the tribute, entertaining
no hopes of safety or return, they sent out the ship with a black
sail, as to unavoidable destruction; but now, Theseus encouraging
his father, and speaking greatly of himself, as confident that he
should kill the Minotaur, he gave the pilot another sail, which was
white, commanding him, as he returned, if Theseus were safe, to make
use of that; but if not, to sail with the black one, and to hang out
that sign of his misfortune. Simonides says that the sail which Aegeus
delivered to the pilot was not white, but- 

"Scarlet, in the juicy bloom 
Of the living oak-tree steeped," and that this was to be the sign
of their escape. Phereclus, son of Amarsyas, according to Simonides,
was pilot of the ship. But Philochorus says Theseus had sent him by
Scirus, from Salamis, Nausithous to be his steersman, and Phaeax his
look-out-man in the prow, the Athenians having as yet not applied
themselves to navigation; and that Scirus did this because one of
the young men, Menesthes, was his daughter's son; and this the chapels
of Nausithous and Phaeax, built by Theseus near the temple of Scirus,
confirm. He adds, also, that the feast named Cybernesia was in honour
of them. The lot being cast, and Theseus having received out of the
Prytaneum those upon whom it fell, he went to the Delphinium, and
made an offering for them to Apollo of his suppliant's badge, which
was a bough of a consecrated olive tree, with white wool tied about

Having thus performed his devotion, he went to sea, the sixth day
of Munychion, on which day even to this time the Athenians send their
virgins to the same temple to make supplication to the gods. It is
farther reported that he was commanded by the oracle of Delphi to
make Venus his guide, and to invoke her as the companion and conductress
of his voyage and that, as he was sacrificing a she goat to her by
the sea-side, it was suddenly changed into a he, and for this cause
that goddess had the name of Epitragia. 

When he arrived at Crete, as most of the ancient historians as well
as poets tell us, having a clue of thread given him by Ariadne, who
had fallen in love with him, and being instructed by her how to use
it so as to conduct him through the windings of the labyrinth, he
escaped out of it and slew the Minotaur, and sailed back, taking along
with him Ariadne and the young Athenian captives. Phercydes adds that
he bored holes in the bottom of the Cretan ships to hinder their pursuit.
Demon writes that Taurus, the chief captain of Minos, was slain by
Theseus at the mouth of the port, in a naval combat as he was sailing
out for Athens. But Philochorus gives us the story thus: That at the
setting forth of the yearly games by King Minos, Taurus was expected
to carry away the prize, as he had done before; and was much grudged
the honour. His character and manners made his power hateful, and
he was accused moreover of too near familiarity with Pasiphae, for
which reason, when Theseus desired the combat, Minos readily complied.
And as it was a custom in Crete that the women also should be admitted
to the sight of these games, Ariadne, being present, was struck with
admiration of the manly beauty of Theseus, and the vigour and address
which he showed in the combat, overcoming all that encountered with
him. Minos, too, being extremely pleased with him, especially because
he had overthrown and disgraced Taurus, voluntarily gave up the young
captives to Theseus, and remitted the tribute to the Athenians. Clidemus
gives an account peculiar to himself, very ambitiously, and beginning
a great way back: That it was a decree consented to by all Greece,
that no vessel from any place, containing above five persons, should
be permitted to sail, Jason only excepted, who was made captain of
the great ship Argo, to sail about and scour the sea of pirates. But
Daedalus having escaped from Crete, and flying by sea to Athens, Minos,
contrary to this decree, pursued him with his ships of war, was forced
by a storm upon Sicily, and there ended his life. After his decease,
Deucalion, his son, desiring a quarrel with the Athenians, sent to
them, demanding that they should deliver up Daedalus to him, threatening
upon their refusal, to put to death all the young Athenians whom his
father had received as hostages from the city. To this angry message
Theseus returned a very gentle answer excusing himself that he could
not deliver up Daedalus, who was nearly related to him, being his
cousin-german, his mother being Merope, the daughter of Erechtheus.
In the meanwhile he secretly prepared a navy, part of it at home near
the village of the Thymoetadae, a place of no resort, and far from
any common roads, the other part by his grandfather Pittheus's means
at Troezen, that so his design might be carried on with the greatest
secrecy. As soon as ever his fleet was in readiness, he set sail,
having with him Daedalus and other exiles from Crete for his guides;
and none of the Cretans having any knowledge of his coming, but imagining
when they saw his fleet that they were friends and vessels of their
own, he soon made himself master of the port, and immediately making
a descent, reached Gnossus before any notice of his coming, and, in
a battle before the gates of the labyrinth, put Deucalion and all
his guards to the sword. The government by this means falling to Ariadne,
he made a league with her, and received the captives of her, and ratified
a perpetual friendship between the Athenians and the Cretans, whom
he engaged under an oath never again to commence any war with Athens.

There are yet many other traditions about these things, and as many
concerning Ariadne, all inconsistent with each other. Some relate
that she hung herself, being deserted by Theseus. Others that she
was carried away by his sailors to the isle of Naxos, and married
to Oenarus, priest of Bacchus; and that Theseus left her because he
fell in love with another- 

"For Aegle's love was burning in his breast; a verse which Hereas,
the Megarian, says was formerly in the poet Hesiod's works, but put
out by Pisistratus, in like manner as he added in Homer's Raising
of the Dead, to gratify the Athenians, the line- 

"Theseus, Pirithous, mighty son of gods." Others say Ariadne had sons
also by Theseus, Oenopion and Staphylus; and among these is the poet
Ion of Chios, who writes of his own native city- 

"Which once Oenopion, son of Theseus built." But the more famous of
the legendary stories everybody (as I may say) has in his mouth. In
Paeon, however, the Amathusian, there is a story given, differing
from the rest. For he writes that Theseus, being driven by a storm
upon the isle of Cyprus, and having aboard with him Ariadne, big with
child, and extremely discomposed with the rolling of the sea, set
her on shore, and left her there alone, to return himself and help
the ship, when, on a sudden, a violent wind carried him again out
to sea. That the women of the island received Ariadne very kindly,
and did all they could to console and alleviate her distress at being
left behind. That they counterfeited kind letters, and delivered them
to her, as sent from Theseus, and, when she fell in labour, were diligent
in performing to her every needful service; but that she died before
she could be delivered, and was honourably interred. That soon after
Theseus returned, and was greatly afflicted for her loss, and at his
departure left a sum of money among the people of the island, ordering
them to do sacrifice to Ariadne; and caused two little images to be
made and dedicated to her, one of silver and the other of brass. Moreover,
that on the second day of Gorpiaeus, which is sacred to Ariadne, they
have this ceremony among their sacrifices, to have a youth lie down
and with his voice and gesture represent the pains of a woman in travail;
and that the Amathusians call the grove in which they show her tomb,
the grove of Venus Ariadne. 

Differing yet from this account, some of the Naxians write that there
were two Minoses and two Ariadnes, one of whom, they say, was married
to Bacchus, in the isle of Naxos, and bore the children Staphylus
and his brother; but that the other, of a later age, was carried off
by Theseus, and, being afterwards deserted by him, retired to Naxos,
with her nurse Corcyna, whose grave they yet show. That this Ariadne
also died there, and was worshipped by the island, but in a different
manner from the former; for her day is celebrated with general joy
and revelling, but all the sacrifices performed to the latter are
attended with mourning and gloom. 

Now Theseus, in his return from Crete, put in at Delos, and having
sacrificed to the god of the island, dedicated to the temple the image
of Venus which Ariadne had given him, and danced with the young Athenians
a dance that, in memory of him, they say is still preserved among
the inhabitants of Delos, consisting in certain measured turnings
and returnings, imitative of the windings and twistings of the labyrinth.
And this dance, as Dicaearchus writes, is called among the Delians
the Crane. This he danced around the Ceratonian Altar, so called from
its consisting of horns taken from the left side of the head. They
say also that he instituted games in Delos, where he was the first
that began the custom of giving a palm to the victors. 

When they were come near the coast of Attica, so great was the joy
for the happy success of their voyage, that neither Theseus himself
nor the pilot remembered to hang out the sail which should have been
the token of their safety to Aegeus, who, in despair at the sight,
threw himself headlong from a rock, and perished in the sea. But Theseus
being arrived at the port of Phalerum, paid there the sacrifices which
he had vowed to the gods at his setting out to sea, and sent a herald
to the city to carry the news of his safe return. At his entrance,
the herald found the people for the most part full of grief for the
loss of their king; others, as may well be believed, as full of joy
for the tidings that he brought, and eager to welcome him and crown
him with garlands for his good news, which he indeed accepted of,
but hung them upon his herald's staff; and thus returning to the seaside
before Theseus had finished his libation to the gods, he stayed apart
for fear of disturbing the holy rites; but, as soon as the libation
was ended, went up and related the king's death, upon the hearing
of which, with great lamentations and a confused tumult of grief,
they ran with all haste to the city. And from hence, they say, it
comes that at this day, in the feast of Oschophoria, the herald is
not crowned, but his staff, and all who are present at the libation
cry out eleleu, iou, iou, the first of which confused sounds is commonly
used by men in haste, or at a triumph, the other is proper to people
in consternation or disorder of mind. 

Theseus, after the funeral of his father, paid his vows to Apollo
the seventh day of Pyanepsion; for on that day the youth that returned
with him safe from Crete made their entry into the city. They say,
also, that the custom of boiling pulse at this feast is derived from
hence; because the young men that escaped put all that was left of
their provision together, and, boiling it in one common pot, feasted
themselves with it, and ate it all up together. Hence, also, they
carry in procession an olive branch bound about with wool (such as
they then made use of in their supplications), which they call Eiresione,
crowned with all sorts of fruits, to signify that scarcity and barrenness
was ceased, singing in their procession this song:- 

"Eiresione bring figs, and Eiresione bring loaves; 
Bring us boney in pints, and oil to rub on our bodies, 
And a strong flagon of wine, for all to go mellow to bed on." Although
some hold opinion that this ceremony is retained in memory of the
Heraclidae, who were thus entertained and brought up by the Athenians.
But most are of the opinion which we have given above. 

The ship wherein Theseus and the youth of Athens returned had thirty
oars, and was preserved by the Athenians down even to the time of
Demetrius Phalereus, for they took away the old planks as they decayed,
putting in new and stronger timber in their place, insomuch that this
ship became a standing example among the philosophers, for the logical
question of things that grow; one side holding that the ship remained
the same, and the other contending that it was not the same.

The feast called Oschophoria, or the feast of boughs, which to this
day the Athenians celebrate, was then first instituted by Theseus.
For he took not with him the full number of virgins which by lot were
to be carried away, but selected two youths of his acquaintance, of
fair and womanish faces, but of a manly and forward spirit, and having,
by frequent baths, and avoiding the heat and scorching of the sun,
with a constant use of all the ointments and washes and dresses that
serve to the adorning of the head or smoothing the skin or improving
the complexion, in a manner changed them from what they were before,
and having taught them farther to counterfeit the very voice and carriage
and gait of virgins so that there could not be the least difference
perceived, he, undiscovered by any, put them into the number of the
Athenian maids designed for Crete. At his return, he and these two
youths led up a solemn procession, in the same habit that is now worn
by those who carry the vine-branches. Those branches they carry in
honour of Bacchus and Ariadne, for the sake of their story before
related; or rather because they happened to return in autumn, the
time of gathering the grapes. The women, whom they call Deipnopherae,
or supper-carriers, are taken into these ceremonies, and assist at
the sacrifice, in remembrance and imitation of the mothers of the
young men and virgins upon whom the lot fell, for thus they ran about
bringing bread and meat to their children; and because the women then
told their sons and daughters many tales and stories, to comfort and
encourage them under the danger they were going upon, it has still
continued a custom that at this feast old fables and tales should
be told. For these particularities we are indebted to the history
of Demon. There was then a place chosen out, and a temple erected
in it to Theseus, and those families out of whom the tribute of the
youth was gathered were appointed to pay tax to the temple for sacrifices
to him. And the house of the Phytalidae had the overseeing of these
sacrifices, Theseus doing them that honour in recompense of their
former hospitality. 

Now, after the death of his father Aegeus, forming in his mind a great
and wonderful design, he gathered together all the inhabitants of
Attica into one town, and made them one people of one city, whereas
before they lived dispersed, and were not easy to assemble upon any
affair for the common interest. Nay, differences and even wars often
occurred between them, which he by his persuasions appeased, going
from township to township, and from tribe to tribe. And those of a
more private and mean condition readily embracing such good advice,
to those of greater power he promised a commonwealth without monarchy,
a democracy, or people's government, in which he should only be continued
as their commander in war and the protector of their laws, all things
else being equally distributed among them;- and by this means brought
a part of them over to his proposal. The rest, fearing his power,
which was already grown very formidable, and knowing his courage and
resolution, chose rather to be persuaded than forced into a compliance.
He then dissolved all the distinct statehouses, council halls, and
magistracies, and built one common state-house and council hall on
the site of the present upper town, and gave the name of Athens to
the whole state, ordaining a common feast and sacrifice, which he
called Panathenaea, or the sacrifice of all the united Athenians.
He instituted also another sacrifice called Metoecia, or Feast of
Migration, which is yet celebrated on the sixteenth day of    Hecatombaeon.
Then, as he had promised, he laid down his regal power and proceeded
to order a commonwealth, entering upon this great work not without
advice from the gods. For having sent to consult the oracle of Delphi
concerning the fortune of his new government and city, he received
this answer:- 

"Son of the Pitthean maid, 
To your town the terms and fates, 
My father gives of many states. 
Be not anxious nor afraid; 
The bladder will not fail to swim 
On the waves that compass him." Which oracle, they say, one of the
sibyls long after did in a manner repeat to the Athenians, in this

"The bladder may be dipt, but not be drowned." Farther yet designing
to enlarge his city, he invited all strangers to come and enjoy equal
privileges with the natives, and it is said that the common form,
Come hither, all ye people, was the words that Theseus proclaimed
when he thus set up a commonwealth, in a manner, for all nations.
Yet he did not suffer his state, by the promiscuous multitude that
flowed in, to be turned into confusion and he left without any order
or degree, but was the first that divided the Commonwealth into three
distinct ranks, the noblemen, the husbandmen, and artificers. To the
nobility he committed the care of religion, the choice of magistrates,
the teaching and dispensing of the laws, and interpretation and direction
in all sacred matters; the whole city being, as it were, reduced to
an exact equality, the nobles excelling the rest in honour, the husbandmen
in profit, and the artificers in number. And that Theseus was the
first, who, as Aristotle says, out of an inclination to popular government,
parted with the regal power, Homer also seems to testify, in his catalogue
of the ships, where he gives the name of People to the Athenians only.

He also coined money, and stamped it with the image of an ox, either
in memory of the Marathonian bull, or of Taurus, whom he vanquished,
or else to put his people in mind to follow husbandry; and from this
coin came the expression so frequent among the Greeks, of a thing
being worth ten or a hundred oxen. After this he joined Megara to
Attica, and erected that famous pillar on the Isthmus, which bears
an inscription of two lines, showing the bounds of the two countries
that meet there. On the east side the inscription is,- 

"Peloponnesus there, Ionia here" and on the west side,- 

"Peloponnesus here, Ionia there." He also instituted the games, in
emulation of Hercules, being ambitious that as the Greeks, by that
hero's appointment, celebrated the Olympian games to the honour of
Jupiter, so by his institution, they should celebrate the Isthmian
to the honour of Neptune. For those that were there before observed,
dedicated to Melicerta, were performed privately in the night, and
had the form rather of a religious rite than of an open spectacle
or public feast. There are some who say that the Isthmian games were
first instituted in memory of Sciron, Theseus thus making expiation
for his death, upon account of the nearness of kindred between them,
Sciron being the son of Canethus and Heniocha, the daughter of Pittheus;
though others write that Sinnis, not Sciron, was their son, and that
to his honour, and not to the other's, these games were ordained by
Theseus. At the same time he made an agreement with the Corinthians,
that they should allow those that came from Athens to the celebration
of the Isthmian games as much space of honour before the rest to behold
the spectacle in, as the sail of the ship that brought them thither
stretched to its full extent, could cover; so Hellanicus and Andro
of Halicarnassus have established. 

Concerning his voyage into the Euxine Sea, Philochorus and some others
write that he made it with Hercules, offering him his service in the
war against the Amazons, and had Antiope given him for the reward
of his valour; but the greater number, of whom are Pherecydes, Hellanicus,
and Herodorus, write that he made this voyage many years after Hercules,
with a navy under his own command, and took the Amazon prisoner- the
more probable story, for we do not read that any other, of all those
that accompanied him in this action, took any Amazon prisoner. Bion
adds, that, to take her, he had to use deceit and fly away; for the
Amazons, he says, being naturally lovers of men, were so far from
avoiding Theseus when he touched upon their coasts, that they sent
him presents to his ship; but he, having invited Antiope, who brought
them, to come aboard, immediately set sail and carried her away. An
author named Menecrates, that wrote the History of Nicae in Bithynia,
adds, that Theseus, having Antiope aboard his vessel, cruised for
some time about those coasts, and that there were in the same ship
three young men of Athens, that accompanied him in this voyage, all
brothers, whose names were Euneos, Thoas, and soloon. The last of
these fell desperately in love with Antiope, and, escaping the notice
of the rest, revealed the secret only to one of his most intimate
acquaintances, and employed him to disclose his passion to Antiope;
she rejected his pretences with a very positive denial, yet treated
the matter with much gentleness and discretion, and made no complaint
to Theseus of anything that had happened; but Soloon, the thing being
desperate, leaped into a river near the seaside and drowned himself.
As soon as Theseus was acquainted with his death, and his unhappy
love that was the cause of it, he was extremely distressed, and, in
the height of his grief, an oracle which he had formerly received
at Delphi came into his mind; for he had been commanded by the priestess
of Apollo Pythius, that wherever in a strange land he was most sorrowful
and under the greatest affliction, he should build a city there, and
leave some of his followers to be governors of the place. For this
cause he there founded a city, which he called, from the name of Apollo,
Pythopolis, and, in honour of the unfortunate youth, he named the
river that runs by it Soloon, and left the two surviving brothers
intrusted with the care of the government and laws, joining with them
Hermus, one of the nobility of Athens, from whom a place in the city
is called the House of Hermus; though by an error in the accent it
has been taken for the House of Hermes, or Mercury, and the honour
that was designed to the hero, transferred to the god. 

This was the origin and cause of the Amazonian invasion of Attica,
which would seem to have been no slight or womanish enterprise. For
it is impossible that they should have placed their camp in the very
city, and joined battle close by the Pnyx and the hill called Museum,
unless, having first conquered the country around about, they had
thus with impunity advanced to the city. That they made so long a
journey by land, and passed the Cimmerian Bosphorus, when frozen,
as Hellanicus writes, is difficult to be believed. That they encamped
all but in the city is certain, and may be sufficiently confirmed
by the names that the places hereabout yet retain, and the graves
and monuments of those that fell in the battle. Both armies being
in sight, there was a long pause and doubt on each side which should
give the first onset; at last Theseus, having sacrificed to Fear,
in obedience to the command of an oracle he had received, gave them
battle; and this happened in the month of Boedromion, in which to
this very day the Athenians celebrate the Feast Boedromia. Clidemus,
desirous to be very circumstantial, writes that the left wing of the
Amazons moved towards the place which is yet called Amazonium and
the right towards the Pnyx, near Chrysa, that with this wing the Athenians,
issuing from behind the Museum, engaged, and that the graves of those
that were slain are to be seen in the street that leads to the gate
called the Piraic, by the chapel of the hero Chalcodon; and that here
the Athenians were routed, and gave way before the women, as far as
to the temple of the Furies, but, fresh supplies coming in from the
Palladium, Ardettus, and the Lyceum, they charged their right wing,
and beat them back into their tents, in which action a great number
of the Amazons were slain. At length, after four months, a peace was
concluded between them by the mediation of Hippolyta (for so this
historian calls the Amazon whom Theseus married, and not Antiope),
though others write that she was slain with a dart by Molpadia, while
fighting by Theseus's side, and that the pillar which stands by the
temple of Olympian Earth was erected to her honour. Nor is it to be
wondered at, that in events of such antiquity, history should be in
disorder. For indeed we are also told that those of the Amazons that
were wounded were privately sent away by Antiope to Chalcis, where
many by her care recovered, but some that died were buried there in
the place that is to this time called Amazonium. That this war, however,
was ended by a treaty is evident, both from the name of the place
adjoining to the temple of Theseus, called, from the solemn oath there
taken, Horcomosium; and also from the ancient sacrifice which used
to be celebrated to the Amazons the day before the Feast of Theseus.
The Megarians also show a spot in their city where some Amazons were
buried, on the way from the market to a place called Rhus, where the
building in the shape of a lozenge stands. It is said, likewise, that
others of them were slain near Chaeronea, and buried near the little
rivulet formerly called Thermodon, but now Haemon, of which an account
is given in the life of Demosthenes. It appears further that the passage
of the Amazons through Thessaly was not without opposition, for there
are yet shown many tombs of them near Scotussa and Cynoscephalae.

This is as much as is worth telling concerning the Amazons. For the
account which the author of the poem called the Theseid gives of this
rising of the Amazons, how Antiope, to revenge herself upon Theseus
for refusing her and marrying Phaedra, came down upon the city with
her train of Amazons, whom Hercules slew, is manifestly nothing else
but fable and invention. It is true, indeed, that Theseus married
Phaedra, but that was after the death of Antiope, by whom he had a
son called Hippolytus, or, as Pindar writes, Demophon. The calamities
which befell Phaedra and this son, since none of the historians have
contradicted the tragic poets that have written of them, we must suppose
happened as represented uniformly by them. 

There are also other traditions of the marriages of Theseus, neither
honourable in their occasions nor fortunate in their events, which
yet were never represented in the Greek plays. For he is said to have
carried off Anaxo, a Troezenian, and having slain Sinnis and Cercyon,
to have ravished their daughters; to have married Periboea, the mother
of Ajax, and then Phereboea, and then Iope, the daughter of Iphicles.
And further, he is accused of deserting Ariadne (as is before related),
being in love with Aegle, the daughter of Panopeus, neither justly
nor honourably; and lastly, of the rape of Helen, which filled all
Attica with war and blood, and was in the end the occasion of his
banishment and death, as will presently be related. 

Herodorus is of opinion, that though there were many famous expeditions
undertaken by the bravest men of his time, yet Theseus never joined
in any of them, once only excepted, with the Lapithae, in their war
against the Centaurs; but others say that he accompanied Jason to
Colchis and Meleager to the slaying of the Calydonian boar, and that
hence it came to be a proverb, Not without Theseus; that he himself,
however, without aid of any one, performed many glorious exploits,
and that from him began the saying, He is a second Hercules. He also
joined Adrastus in recovering the bodies of those that were slain
before Thebes, but not as Euripides in his tragedy says, by force
of arms, but by persuasion and mutual agreement and composition, for
so the greater part of the historians write; Philochorus adds further
that this was the first treaty that ever was made for the recovering
the bodies of the dead, but in the history of Hercules, it is shown
that it was he who first gave leave to his enemies to carry off their
slain. The burying-places of the most part are yet to be seen in the
villa called Eleutherae; those of the commanders, at Eleusis, where
Theseus allotted them a place, to oblige Adrastus. The story of Euripides
in his suppliants is disproved by Aeschylus in his Eleusinians, where
Theseus himself relates the facts as here told. 

The celebrated friendship between Theseus and Pirithous is said to
have been thus began; the fame of the strength and valour of Theseus
being spread through Greece, Pirithous was desirous to make a trial
and proof of it himself, and to this end seized a herd of oxen which
belonged to Theseus, and was driving them away from Marathon, and,
when the news was brought that Theseus pursued him in arms, he did
not fly, but turned back and went to meet him. But as soon as they
had viewed one another, each so admired the gracefulness and beauty,
and was seized with such respect for the courage of the other, that
they forgot all thoughts of fighting; and Pirithous, first stretching
out his hand to Theseus, bade him be judge in this case himself, and
promised to submit willingly to any penalty he should impose. But
Theseus not only forgave him all, but entreated him to be his friend
and brother in arms; and they ratified their friendship by oaths.
After this Pirithous married Deidamia, and invited Theseus to the
wedding, entreating him to come and see his country, and make acquaintance
with the Lapithae; he had at the same time invited the Centaurs to
the feast, who growing hot with wine and beginning to be insolent
and wild, and offering violence to the women, the Lapithae took immediate
revenge upon them, slaying many of them upon the place, and afterwards,
having overcome them in battle, drove the whole race of them out of
their country, Theseus all along taking their part and fighting on
their side. But Herodorus gives a different relation of these things;
that Theseus came not to the assistance of the Lapithae till the war
was already begun; and that it was in this journey that he had his
first sight of Hercules, having made it his business to find him out
at Trachis, where he had chosen to rest himself after all his wanderings
and his labours; and that this interview was honourably performed
on each part, with extreme respect, and good-will, and admiration
of each other. Yet it is more credible, as others write, that there
were, before, frequent interviews between them, and that it was by
the means of Theseus that Hercules was initiated at Eleusis, and purified
before initiation, upon account of several rash actions of his former

Theseus was now fifty years old, as Hellanicus states, when he carried
off Helen, who was yet too young to be married. Some writers, to take
away this accusation of one of the greatest crimes laid to his charge,
say, that he did not steal away Helen himself, but that Idas and Lynceus
were the ravishers, who brought her to him, and committed her to his
charge, and that, therefore, he refused to restore her at the demand
of Castor and Pollux; or, indeed, they say her own father, Tyndarus,
had sent her to be kept by him, for fear of Enarophorus, the son of
Hippocoon, who would have carried her away by force when she was yet
a child. But the most probable account, and that which has most witnesses
on its side, is this: Theseus and Pirithous went both together to
Sparta, and, having seized the young lady as she was dancing in the
temple Diana Orthia, fled away with her. There were presently men
sent in arms to pursue, but they followed no further than to Tegea;
and Theseus and Pirithous, being now out of danger, having passed
through Peloponnesus, made an agreement between themselves, that he
to whom the lot should fall should have Helen to his wife, but should
be obliged to assist in procuring another for his friend. The lot
fell upon Theseus, who conveyed her to Aphidnae, not being yet marriageable,
and delivered her to one of his allies, called Aphidnus, and, having
sent his mother, Aethra, after to take care of her, desired him to
keep them so secretly, that none might know where they were; which
done, to return the same service to his friend Pirithous, he accompanied
him in his journey to Epirus, in order to steal away the king of the
Molossians' daughter. The king, his own name being Aidoneus, or Pluto,
called his wife Proserpina, and his daughter Cora, and a great dog,
which he kept, Cerberus, with whom he ordered all that came as suitors
to his daughter to fight, and promised her to him that should overcome
the beast. But having been informed that the design of Pirithous and
his companion was not to court his daughter, but to force her away,
he caused them both to be seized, and threw Pirithous to be torn in
pieces by his dog, and put Theseus into prison, and kept him.

About this time, Menestheus, the son of Peteus, grandson of Orneus,
and great-grandson of Erechtheus, the first man that is recorded to
have affected popularity and ingratiated himself with the multitude,
stirred up and exasperated the most eminent men of the city, who had
long borne a secret grudge to Theseus, conceiving that he had robbed
them of their several little kingdoms and lordships, and having pent
them all up in one city, was using them as his subjects and slaves.
He put also the meaner people into commotion, telling them, that,
deluded with a mere dream of liberty, though indeed they were deprived
of both that and of their proper homes and religious usages, instead
of many good and gracious kings of their own, they had given themselves
up to be lorded over by a new-comer and a stranger. Whilst he was
thus busied in infecting the minds of the citizens, the war that Castor
and Pollux brought against Athens came very opportunely to further
the sedition he had been promoting, and some say that by his persuasions
was wholly the cause of their invading the city. At their first approach,
they committed no acts of hostility, but peaceably demanded their
sister Helen; but the Athenians returning answer that they neither
had her there nor knew where she was disposed of, they prepared to
assault the city, when Academus, having, by whatever means, found
it out, disclosed to them that she was secretly kept at Aphidnae.
For which reason he was both highly honoured during his life by Castor
and Pollux, and the Lacedaemonians, when often in aftertimes they
made incursions into Attica, and destroyed all the country round about,
spared the Academy for the sake of Academus. But Dicaearchus writes
that there were two Arcadians in the army of Castor and Pollux, the
one called Echedemus, and the other Marathus; from the first that
which is now called Academia was then named Echedemia, and the village
Marathon had its name from the other, who, to fulfil some oracle,
voluntarily offered himself to be made a sacrifice before battle.
As soon as they were arrived at Aphidnae, they overcame their enemies
in a set battle, and then assaulted and took the town. And here, they
say, Alycus, the son of Sciron, was slain, of the party of the Dioscuri
(Castor and Pollux), from whom a place in Megara, where he was buried,
is called Alycus to this day. And Hereas writes that it was Theseus
himself that killed him, in witness of which he cites these verses
concerning Alycus- 

"And Alycus upon Aphidnae's plain, 
By Theseus in the cause of Helen slain." Though it is not at all probable
that Theseus himself was there when both the city and his mother were

Aphidnae being won by Castor and Pollux, and the city of Athens being
in consternation, Menestheus persuaded the people to open their gates,
and receive them with all manner of friendship, for they were, he
told them, at enmity with none but Theseus, who had first injured
them, and were benefactors and saviours to all mankind beside. And
their behviour gave credit to those promises; for, having made themselves
absolute masters of the place, they demanded no more than to be initiated,
since they were as nearly related to the city as Hercules was, who
had received the same honour. This their desire they easily obtained,
and were adopted by Aphidnus, as Hercules had been by Pylius. They
were honoured also like gods, and were called by a new name, Anaces,
either from the cessation of the war, or from the care they took that
none should suffer any injury, though there was so great an army within
the walls; for the phrase anakos ekhein is used of those who look
to or care for anything; kings for this reason, perhaps, are called
anactes. Others say, that from the appearance of their star in the
heavens, they were thus called, for in the Attic dialect this name
comes very near the words that signify above. 

Some say that Aethra, Theseus's mother, was here taken prisoner, and
carried to Lacedaemon, and from thence went away with Helen to Troy,
alleging this verse of Homer to prove that she waited upon Helen-

"Aethra of Pittheus born, and large eyed Clymene." Others reject this
verse as none of Homer's, as they do likewise the whole fable of Munychus,
who, the story says, was the son of Demophon and Laodice, born secretly,
and brought up by Aethra at Troy. But Ister, in the thirteenth book
of his Attic History, gives us an account of Aethra, different yet
from all the rest: that Achilles and Patroclus overcame Paris in Thessaly,
near the river Sperchius, but that Hector took and plundered the city
of the Troezenians. and made Aethra prisoner there. But this seems
a groundless tale. 

Now Hercules, passing by the Molossians, was entertained in his way
to Aidoneus the king, who, in conversation, accidentally spoke of
the journey of Theseus and Pirithous into his country, of what they
had designed to do, and what they were forced to suffer. Hercules
was much grieved for the inglorious death of the one and the miserable
condition of the other. As for Pirithous, he thought it useless to
complain; but begged to have Theseus released for his sake, and obtained
that favour from the king. Theseus, being thus set at liberty, returned
to Athens, where his friends were not yet wholly suppressed, and dedicated
to Hercules all the sacred places which the city had set apart for
himself, changing their names from Thesea to Heraclea, four only excepted,
as Philochorus writes. And wishing immediately to resume the first
place in the commonwealth, and manage the state as before, he soon
found himself involved in factions and troubles; those who long had
hated him had now added to their hatred contempt; and the minds of
the people were so generally corrupted, that, instead of obeying commands
with silence, they expected to be flattered into their duty. He had
some thoughts to have reduced them by force, but was overpowered by
demagogues and factions. And at last, despairing of any good success
of his affairs in Athens, he sent away his children privately to Euboea,
commending them to the care of Elephenor, the son of Chalcodon; and
he himself having solemnly cursed the people of Athens in the village
of Gargettus, in which there yet remains the place called Araterion,
or the place of cursing, sailed to Scyros, where he had lands left
him by his father, and friendship, as he thought, with those of the
island. Lycomedes was then king of Scyros. Theseus, therefore, addressed
himself to him and desired to have his lands put into his possession,
as designing to settle and to dwell there, though others say that
he came to beg his assistance against the Athenians. But Lycomedes,
either jealous of the glory of so great a man, or to gratify Menestheus,
having led him up to the highest cliff of the island, on pretence
of showing him from thence the lands that be desired, threw him headlong
down from the rock, and killed him. Others say he fell down of himself
by a slip of his foot, as he was walking there, according to his custom,
after supper. At that time there was no notice taken, nor were any
concerned for his death, but Menestheus quietly possessed the kingdom
of Athens. His sons were brought up in a private condition, and accompanied
Elephenor to the Trojan war, but, after the decease of Menestheus
in that expedition, returned to Athens, and recovered the government.
But in succeeding ages, besides several other circumstances that moved
the Athenians to honour Theseus as a demigod, in the battle which
was fought at Marathon against the Medes, many of the soldiers believed
they saw an apparition of Theseus in arms, rushing on at the head
of them against the barbarians. And after the Median war, Phaedo being
archon of Athens, the Athenians, consulting the oracle at Delphi,
were commanded to gather together the bones of Theseus, and, laying
them in some honourable place, keep them as sacred in the city. But
it was very difficult to recover those relics, or so much as to find
out the place where they lay, on account of the inhospitable and savage
temper of the barbarous people that inhabited the island. Nevertheless,
afterwards, when Cimon took the island (as is related in his life),
and had a great ambition to find out the place where Theseus was buried,
he, by chance, spied an eagle upon a rising ground pecking with her
beak and tearing up the earth with her talons, when on the sudden
it came into his mind, as it were by some divine inspiration, to dig
there, and search for the bones of Theseus. There were found in that
place a coffin of a man of more than ordinary size, and a brazen spear-head,
and a sword lying by it, all which he took aboard his galley and brought
with him to Athens. Upon which the Athenians, greatly delighted, went
out to meet and receive the relics with splendid processions and sacrifices,
as if it were Theseus himself returning alive to the city. He lies
interred in the middle of the city, near the present gymnasium. His
tomb is a sanctuary and refuge for slaves, and all those of mean condition
that fly from the persecution of men in power, in memory that Theseus
while he lived was an assister and protector of the distressed, and
never refused the petitions of the afflicted that fled to him. The
chief and most solemn sacrifice which they celebrate to him is kept
on the eighth day of Pyanepsion, on which he returned with the Athenian
young men from Crete. Besides which they sacrifice to him on the eighth
day of every month, either because he returned from Troezen the eighth
day of Hecatombaeon, as Diodorus the geographer writes, or else thinking
that number to be proper to him, because he was reputed to be born
of Neptune, because they sacrifice to Neptune on the eighth day of
every month. The number eight being the first cube of an even number,
and the double of the first square, seemed to be an emblem of the
steadfast and immovable power of this god, who from thence has the
names of Asphalius and Gaeiochus, that is, the establisher and stayer
of the earth. 



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