The Greek Myths - Chapter 13, Theseus Summary & Analysis

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Chapter 13, Theseus Summary and Analysis

There are four myths dedicated to Theseus. Theseus's birth is attributed to his mother and to Poseidon, but Aegeus is recognized as the mortal she slept with the night she conceived the child. The woman Aethra dreamed of a sojourn to an island where she was overwhelmed by Poseidon and the shape of an actual island was changed. The god agreed to give the mortal man credit for siring the baby. However, when this 'love-child' was raised, the guardian somehow knew of this connection to Poseidon, and Graves informs readers that the guardian is known to have spread the rumor, or knowledge, that the boy's true father was the god Poseidon. Early indications of his courageous nature are given in an anecdote. Little Theseus found a weapon and made to prepare to fight a lion - the lion was really merely a lion's skin. Heracles the hero was present, and as a matter of fact, it was one of his skins. No harm comes of it, but it is used to show the boy's potential. Robert Graves explains that there seem to have been three separate characters named Theseus. One from Attica, one who united a region known as Troezen, the other from a territory associated with the Lapith people.

Theseus is credited with having destroyed the Cretan minotaur. However, Graves has also explained that the Cretans are known to be liars. Not only that, but the Cretans have consistently denied the existence of the Minotaur. What was brought up in close relation to this, was that there was a powerful man called Taurus - which in many cases is another name for 'the bull'. He was the leader of many in Crete and it is natural to speculate that the Minotaur was some combination of Minos and Taurus, or that Taurus did have a bull's head and skin, just as Heracles had a lion's skin. The Cretans stuck by their story that their labyrinth was a well guarded prison, but that there was no monster minotaur lurking there. The Cretans were known to have a matriarchal society, well into after the time when other areas of Greece had converted to patriarchy. It has often been found the case, at least among women, where there is less resort to violence there is sometimes an equal resort to deceit as an alternative. This alternative has often been associated with women or with whomever does not have the greatest access to dominant physical force. Deceit, like violence, has a mixed reputation as both a good and a bad trait. At least one woman fell in love with Theseus on sight. She had been in mortal fear of him, as he had come upon her family. When she discovered she was not going to be destroyed, her mind turned immediately to love. Finally, Theseus is credited with the invention of wrestling.

This section contains 488 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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