In Greek mythology,
Aegeus (Ancient Greek: Αἰγεύς,
translit. Aigeús) or Aegeas (Αιγέας, translit. Aigéas),
was an archaic figure in the founding myth of Athens. The "goat-man"
who gave his name to the
Aegean Sea was, next to Poseidon, the father
of Theseus, the founder of Athenian institutions and one of the kings
1 The Myth
1.1 His reign
1.2 Conflict with Crete
Theseus and the Minotaur
3 See also
5 External links
Themis and Aegeus. Attic red-figure kylix, 440–430 BC
Upon the death of the king, Pandion II,
Aegeus and his three brothers,
Pallas, Nisos, and Lykos, took control of
Athens from Metion, who had
seized the throne from Pandion. They divided the government in four
Aegeus became king.
Aegeus' first wife was Meta, and his second wife was Chalciope.
Still without a male heir,
Aegeus asked the oracle at
advice. Her cryptic words were "Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the
wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of
Aegeus did not understand the prophecy and was
Thésée reconnu par son père by Antoine-Placide Gibert (1832)
This puzzling oracle forced
Aegeus to visit Pittheus, king of Troezen,
who was famous for his wisdom and skill at expounding oracles.
Pittheus understood the prophecy and introduced
Aegeus to his
daughter, Aethra, when
Aegeus was drunk. They lay with each other,
and then in some versions, Aethra waded to the island of Sphairia
(a.k.a. Calauria) and bedded Poseidon. When Aethra became pregnant,
Aegeus decided to return to Athens. Before leaving, he buried his
sandal, shield, and sword under a huge rock and told her that, when
their son grew up, he should move the rock and bring the weapons to
his father, who would acknowledge him. Upon his return to Athens,
Aegeus married Medea, who had fled from Corinth and the wrath of
Medea had one son named Medus.
Conflict with Crete
While visiting in Athens, King Minos' son,
Androgeus managed to defeat
Aegeus in every contest during the Panathenaic Games. Out of envy,
Aegeus sent him to conquer the Marathonian Bull, which killed him.
Minos was angry and declared war on Athens. He offered the Athenians
peace, however, under the condition that
Athens would send seven young
men and seven young women every nine years to
Crete to be fed to the
Minotaur, a vicious monster. This continued until
Theseus killed the
Minotaur with the help of Ariadne, Minos' daughter.
Arrival or departure of a young warrior or hero, maybe Theseus
Athens and being recognized because of his sword by
Aegeus. Apulian red-figured volute-krater, ca. 410–400 BC, from Ruvo
Theseus and the Minotaur
Main article: Theseus
Theseus grew up and became a brave young man. He managed
to move the rock and took his father's weapons. His mother then told
him the identity of his father and that he should take the weapons
back to him at
Athens and be acknowledged.
Theseus decided to go to
Athens and had the choice of going by sea, which was the safe way, or
by land, following a dangerous path with thieves and bandits all the
way. Young, brave and ambitious,
Theseus decided to go to
Theseus arrived, he did not reveal his true identity. He was
welcomed by Aegeus, who was suspicious about the stranger who came to
Medea tried to have
Theseus killed by encouraging
ask him to capture the Marathonian Bull, but
Theseus succeeded. She
tried to poison him, but at the last second,
Aegeus recognized his son
and knocked the poisoned cup out of Theseus' hand. Father and son were
thus reunited, and
Medea was sent away to Asia.
Theseus departed for Crete. Upon his departure,
Aegeus told him to put
up white sails when returning if he was successful in killing the
Minotaur. However, when
Theseus returned, he forgot these
Aegeus saw the black sails coming into Athens,
mistaken in his belief that his son had been slain, he killed himself
by jumping from a height : according to some, from the Acropolis
or another unnamed rock; according to some Latin authors, into the
sea which was therefore known as the Aegean Sea.
Aegeus has been lost, but
Aegeus features in
At Athens, the traveller Pausanias was informed in the second-century
CE that the cult of
Aphrodite Urania above the
Kerameikos was so
ancient that it had been established by Aegeus, whose sisters were
barren, and he still childless himself.
^ Compare Metis.
^ Plutarch, Vita of Theseus; Pseudo-Apollodorus,
^ Scholion on Euripides' Hippolytus, noted by Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes
of the Greeks (1959) p 218 note 407.
Bibliotheke 3.15.7. The identification of the
festival as the
Panathenaia is an interpolated anachronism.
^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome of the Bibliotheke, 1.5–7; First
Vatican Mythographer, 48.
^ Diodorus Siculus 4.61.4; Plutarch, Vita of
Theseus 17 and 22;
^ Hyginus, Fabula 41, 43; Servius on the Aeneid 3.74.
^ Pausanias, 1.14.6.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aegeus.
Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aegeus". Encyclopædia Britannica
(11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
Theoi Project - Aegeus
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