In Greek mythology, Aegeus (/ˈɛdʒˌjuːs/; Ancient Greek: Αἰγεύς, romanizedAigeús) 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 of Athens.

Hippolyte Flandrin - Theseus Recognized by his Father - 1832
Theseus Recognized by his Father by Hippolyte Flandrin (1832)


Aegeus was the son of Pandion II, king of Athens and Pylia, daughter of King Pylas of Megara and thus, brother to Pallas, Nysus and Lykos. But, in some accounts, he was regarded as the son of Scyrius or Phemius and was not of the stock of the Erechtheids, since he was only an adopted son of Pandion.[1]

Aegeus' first wife was Meta[2], daughter of Hoples and his second wife was Chalciope, daughter of Rhexenor, neither of whom bore him any children.[3]


Themis Aigeus Antikensammlung Berlin F2538 n2
Themis and Aegeus. Attic red-figure kylix, 440–430 BC


Aegeus was born in Megara where his father Pandion had settled after being expelled from Athens by the sons of Metion who seized the throne.[4] After the death of Pandion, now king of Megara, Aegeus in conjunction with his three brothers successfully attacked Athens, took control over the government and expelled the usurpers, the Metionids. Then, they divide the power among themselves but Aegeus obtained the sovereignty of Attica, succeeding Pandion to the throne.[3][5] It has been said that Megara was at the time a part of Attica, and that Nisus received his part when he became king of that city.[6] Lycus became king of Euboea whereas Pallas received the southern part of the territory. Aegeus, being the eldest of the brothers, received what they all regarded as the best part: Athens.[7]

The division of the land was explained further in the following text by the geographer Strabo[8]:

". . when Attica was divided into four parts, Nisus obtained Megaris as his portion and founded Nisaea. Now, according to Philochorus, his rule extended from the Isthmus to the Pythium[9], but according to Andron, only as far as Eleusis and the Thriasian Plain. Although different writers have stated the division into four parts in different ways, it suffices to take the following from Sophocles: Aegeus says that his father ordered him to depart to the shorelands, assigning to him as the eldest the best portion of this land; then to Lycus “"he assigns Euboea's garden that lies side by side therewith; and for Nisus he selects the neighboring land of Sceiron's shore; and the southerly part of the land fell to this rugged Pallas, breeder of giants."

Later on, Lycus was driven from the territory by Aegeus himself, and had to seek refuge in Arene, Messenia. Pallas and his fifty sons revolted at a later time, being crushed by Aegeus' son Theseus.[10]

Heirless king

Antoine Placide Gibert Thésée reconnu par son père
Thésée reconnu par son père by Antoine-Placide Gibert (1832)

Still without a male heir with his previous marriages, Aegeus asked the oracle at Delphi for advice. According to Pausanias, Aegeus ascribed this misfortune to the anger of Aphrodite and in order to conciliate her introduced her worship as Aphrodite Urania (Heavenly) in Athens.[11]

The cryptic words of the oracle were "Do not loosen the bulging mouth of the wineskin until you have reached the height of Athens, lest you die of grief."[12] Aegeus did not understand the prophecy and was disappointed. 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.[13] 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 Jason. Aegeus and 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.[14] 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.

Krater Warrior BM F158
Arrival or departure of a young warrior or hero, maybe Theseus arriving at Athens and being recognized because of his sword by Aegeus. Apulian red-figured volute-krater, ca. 410–400 BC, from Ruvo (South Italy).

Theseus and the Minotaur

In Troezen, 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 Athens by land.

When Theseus arrived, he did not reveal his true identity. He was welcomed by Aegeus, who was suspicious about the stranger who came to Athens. Medea tried to have Theseus killed by encouraging Aegeus to 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.[15]

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 instructions. When 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[16]; according to some Latin authors, into the sea which was therefore known as the Aegean Sea.[17]

Sophocles' tragedy Aegeus has been lost, but Aegeus features in Euripides' Medea.


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.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Compare Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, 3.15.5; John Tzetzes, ad Lycophron, 494 & Plutarch. Theseus, 13
  2. ^ Compare Metis.
  3. ^ a b Pseudo-Apollodorus. Bibliotheca, 3.15.6
  4. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 1.5.3
  5. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 1.5.4
  6. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 1.39.4
  7. ^ Scholiast on Aristophanes. Lysistrata, 58 & on Wasps, 1223
  8. ^ Strabo. Geographica, 9.16
  9. ^ "To what Pythium Philochorus refers is uncertain, but he seems to mean the temple of Pythian Apollo in the deme of Oenoe, about twelve miles northwest of Eleusis; or possibly the temple of Apollo which was situated between Eleusis and Athens on the site of the present monastery of Daphne." - Footnote 2 from Strabo. Geographica, 9.1.6
  10. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 4.2.6
  11. ^ Pausanias. Description of Greece, 1.14.7
  12. ^ Plutarch, Vita of Theseus; Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 3,15.6.
  13. ^ Scholion on Euripides' Hippolytus, noted by Karl Kerenyi, The Heroes of the Greeks (1959) p 218 note 407.
  14. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Bibliotheke 3.15.7. The identification of the festival as the Panathenaia is an interpolated anachronism.
  15. ^ Pseudo-Apollodorus, Epitome of the Bibliotheke, 1.5–7; First Vatican Mythographer, 48.
  16. ^ Diodorus Siculus 4.61.4; Plutarch, Vita of Theseus 17 and 22; Pausanias 1.22.5; Catullus 64.215–245
  17. ^ Hyginus, Fabula 41, 43; Servius on the Aeneid 3.74.
  18. ^ Pausanias, 1.14.6.

External links

  • Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Aegeus" . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
  • Theoi Project - Aegeus
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Pandion II
King of Athens Succeeded by
13th century BC

The 13th century BC was the period from 1300 to 1201 BC.


Aegea is a back-formation from "Aegean", the sea that was named after an eponymous Aegeus in early levels of Greek mythology. The Encyclopædia Britannica (1911) mentioned an Aegea, queen of the Amazons, as an alternative eponym of the Aegean Sea. Legend says she commanded an army of Amazon women warriors that traveled from Libya to Asia Minor to fight at Troy, and that she perished at sea with her army.Modern Italian has the adjective Egea ("Aegean"), but Classical Latin had none. Modern botanical Latin sometimes uses the specific epithet aegea to mean "of the Aegean".

Aegeus (comics)

Nikos Aegeus is a fictional character in the DC Comics universe. The character is a minor supervillain who has primarily fought Wonder Woman.

Aegeus (hero)

In Greek mythology, Aegeus (Ancient Greek: Αἰγεύς) is the eponymic hero of the phyle called the Aegeidae at Sparta. He was a son of Oeolycus, and grandson of Theras, the founder of the colony in Thera. All the Aegeïds were believed to be Cadmeans, who formed a settlement at Sparta previous to the Dorian conquest. There is only this difference in the accounts, that, according to some, Aegeus was the leader of the Cadmean colonists at Sparta, while, according to Herodotus, they received their name of Aegeids from the later Aegeus, the son of Oeolycus. There was at Sparta a heroon of Aegeus.

Aethra (mother of Theseus)

In Greek mythology, Aethra or Aithra (Ancient Greek: Αἴθρα, pronounced [ǎi̯tʰra], English: , the "bright sky") was a daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen and the mother of Theseus (his father was King Aegeus of Athens, or in some versions, Poseidon) and of Clymene (by Hippalces). Aethra was also called Pittheis after her father Pittheus.

Aethra (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Aethra or Aithra (Ancient Greek: Αἴθρα, Aἴthra, pronounced [ǎi̯tʰra], English: , the "bright sky") was a name applied to four different individuals.

Aethra, name of one of the Oceanids, the 3000 daughters of Oceanus and Tethys. She is sometimes called the wife of Atlas and mother of the Pleiades, Hyades (more usually the offspring of Pleione) and Hyas.

Aethra (possibly same as above) is, in one source, called the wife of Hyperion, rather than Theia, and mother of Helios, Eos, and Selene.

Aethra, daughter of King Pittheus of Troezen and mother of Theseus either by Poseidon or Aegeus. This is the same Aethra who went to Troy with Helen as one of her two handmaidens.

Aethra, wife of the Spartan Phalanthus. She fulfilled the prophecy given to her husband by her tears, after which he conquered Tarentum for himself.


In Greek mythology, Medea (; Ancient Greek: Μήδεια, Mēdeia) is the daughter of King Aeëtes of Colchis, a niece of Circe and the granddaughter of the sun god Helios. Medea figures in the myth of Jason and the Argonauts, appearing in Hesiod's Theogony around 700 BC, but best known from Euripides' tragedy Medea and Apollonius of Rhodes' epic Argonautica. Medea is known in most stories as a sorceress and is often depicted as a priestess of the goddess Hecate.

Meta (mythology)

In Greek mythology, Meta (Ancient Greek: Μήταν "beyond") was the daughter of Hoples who became the first wife of Aegeus, king of Athens. She bore no child to the king thus he married another woman named Chalciope, daughter of Rhexenor or Chalcodon, who also cannot give him heir to the throne. Eventually, the hero Theseus became Aegeus' first born by Aethra after Athenian ruler was made drunk by Pittheus, the maiden's daughter. In other traditions Meta was called Mellite.


In Greek mythology, Minos (; Greek: Μίνως, Minōs) was the first King of Crete, son of Zeus and Europa. Every nine years, he made King Aegeus pick seven young boys and seven young girls to be sent to Daedalus's creation, the labyrinth, to be eaten by the Minotaur. After his death, Minos became a judge of the dead in the underworld.

The Minoan civilization of Crete has been named after him by the archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans.


In Greek mythology, the Minotaur (, ; Ancient Greek: Μῑνώταυρος [miːnɔ̌ːtau̯ros], Latin: Minotaurus, Etruscan: Θevrumineś) is a mythical creature portrayed in Classical times with the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man or, as described by Roman poet Ovid, a being "part man and part bull". He dwelt at the center of the Labyrinth, which was an elaborate maze-like construction designed by the architect Daedalus and his son Icarus, on the command of King Minos of Crete. The Minotaur was eventually killed by the Athenian hero Theseus.

The term Minotaur derives from the Ancient Greek Μῑνώταυρος, a compound of the name Μίνως (Minos) and the noun ταύρος "bull", translated as "(the) Bull of Minos". In Crete, the Minotaur was known by the name Asterion, a name shared with Minos' foster-father."Minotaur" was originally a proper noun in reference to this mythical figure. The use of "minotaur" as a common noun to refer to members of a generic species of bull-headed creatures developed much later, in 20th-century fantasy genre fiction.

Olympus (TV series)

Olympus is a Canadian/British fantasy television series that premiered on Syfy in the USA and Super Channel in Canada on 2 April 2015. The first season had thirteen episodes, and concluded on 2 July 2015. The series has since been cancelled.


In Greek mythology, the Pallantidai (Ancient Greek: Παλλαντίδαι) were the fifty sons of Pallas, younger brother of Aegeus, king of Athens. Diodorus Siculus related that they once became friends with Androgeos, a son of Minos, and that was why Aegeus had Androgeos assassinated, fearing that Pallas and his sons could use this friendship to get assistance from the powerful Minos against him. The Pallantidae and their father marched against Theseus and Aegeus in order to seize the throne; according to Plutarch, one half of them under command of Pallas openly marched on Athens from Sphettus, while the other half laid in ambush near Gargettus. However, their herald Leos warned Theseus of their schemes and Theseus pre-emptively ambushed the Pallantides and killed all those at Gargettus, whereupon the other half retreated. Other sources state that Theseus killed all the fifty Pallantidae as well as Pallas. A tradition saying that he spared their sister, Aricia, whom he kept as slave, is followed in Jean Racine's Phèdre but is not supported by extant genuinely ancient sources.

Ovid mentioned two of the Pallantidae, Butes and Clytus, as companions of Cephalus. but other than this, no individual names of any of the Pallantidae survived.

Some scholars believe that the east frieze of the Hephaisteion depicts the battle of Theseus against the Pallantidae.

Pallas of Athens

In Greek mythology, Pallas (/ˈpæləs/; Ancient Greek: Πάλλας) was one of the four sons of Pandion II and Pylia. Upon the death of Pandion, Pallas and his brothers (Aegeas, Nisos, and Lykos) took control of Athens from Metion, who had seized the throne from Pandion. They divided the government in four but Aegeas became king. Pallas received Paralia or Diacria as his domain, or else he shared the power over several demes with Aegeus. Later, after the death of Aegeas, Pallas tried to take the throne from the rightful heir, his nephew, Theseus, but failed and was killed by him, and so were his fifty children, the Pallantides.In a version endorsed by Servius, Pallas was not a brother, but a son of Aegeus, and thus a brother of Theseus, by whom he was expelled from Attica. He then came to Arcadia, where he became king and founded a dynasty to which Evander and another Pallas belonged.

Pandion II

In Greek mythology, Pandion II ( or ; Ancient Greek: Πανδίων) was a legendary King of Athens, the son and heir of Cecrops II and his wife Metiadusa, and the father of Aegeus, Pallas, Nisos and Lycus.


Papilio is a genus in the swallowtail butterfly family, Papilionidae, as well as the only representative of the tribe Papilionini. The word papilio is Latin for butterfly.The genus includes a number of well-known North American species such as the western tiger swallowtail (Papilio rutulus). Familiar species in elsewhere in the world include the Mormons (Papilio polytes, Papilio polymnestor, Papilio memnon, and Papilio deiphobus) in Asia, the orchard and Ulysses swallowtails in Australia (Papilio aegeus, Papilio ulysses, respectively) and the citrus swallowtail of Africa (Papilio demodocus).

Older classifications of the swallowtails tended to use a large number of rather small genera. More recent classifications have been more conservative, and as a result a number of former genera are now absorbed within Papilio. The genus as recognized by modern systems has about 200 members. The genus Chilasa is regarded as a subgenus of Papilio by some workers, as are the baggy-tailed swallowtails (Agehana), although the latter taxon is usually considered a subgenus of Chilasa.

Many of the larvae resemble bird droppings during a development stage. Adults are edible to birds and some species are mimics.Now included in the genus Papilio, are the former genera: Achillides, Eleppone, Druryia, Heraclides (giant swallowtails), Menelaides, Princeps, Pterourus (tiger swallowtails), and Sinoprinceps.

Papilio aegeus

Papilio aegeus, the orchard swallowtail butterfly or large citrus butterfly is a species of butterfly from the family Papilionidae, that is found in eastern Australia and Papua New Guinea.

The larvae of this species are sometimes considered a pest, due to their feeding on citrus leaves in suburban gardens.


In Greek mythology, Pittheus (; Ancient Greek: Πιτθεύς) was the king of Troezen, city in Argolis, which he had named after his brother Troezen.


Theseus (UK: , US: ; Greek: Θησεύς [tʰɛːsěu̯s]) was the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. Like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, Theseus battled and overcame foes that were identified with an archaic religious and social order. His role in history has been called "a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules".Theseus was a founding hero for the Athenians in the same way that Heracles was the founding hero for the Dorians. The Athenians regarded Theseus as a great reformer; his name comes from the same root as θεσμός (thesmos), Greek for "The Gathering". The myths surrounding Theseus—his journeys, exploits, and friends—have provided material for fiction throughout the ages.

Theseus was responsible for the synoikismos ('dwelling together')—the political unification of Attica under Athens—represented emblematically in his journey of labours, subduing ogres and monstrous beasts. Because he was the unifying king, Theseus built and occupied a palace on the fortress of the Acropolis that may have been similar to the palace that was excavated in Mycenae. Pausanias reports that after the synoikismos, Theseus established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos ('Aphrodite of all the People') and Peitho on the southern slope of the Acropolis.

Plutarch's Life of Theseus (a literalistic biography) makes use of varying accounts of the death of the Minotaur, Theseus' escape, and the love of Ariadne for Theseus. Plutarch's sources, not all of whose texts have survived independently, included Pherecydes (mid-fifth century BC), Demon (c. 400 BC), Philochorus, and Cleidemus (both fourth century BC). As the subject of myth, the existence of Theseus as a real person has not been proven, but scholars believe that he may have been alive during the Late Bronze Age possibly as a king in the 8th or 9th century BC.

Theseus Rediscovering His Father's Sword

Theseus Rediscovering His Father's Sword is a c.1638 painting by Nicolas Poussin and Jean Le Maire, acquired in London by Henri d'Orléans, Duke of Aumale in 1860, moved to his château de Chantilly in 1871 and now in the Musée Condé at Chantilly. The Uffizi (inv. 1004) and the Wildenstein collection hold autograph copies of the work, but X-ray examination has shown much retouching of the Chantilly version and so it is accepted as the original of the composition.

Such collaborations were common - in the 1630s Poussin only produced small private commissions, with foreground figures in his own hand and background architecture by a specialist painter such as Le Maire. The first record of the painting dates to the 19th century, when it was in the United Kingdom, passing through the hands of John Knight, Higginson and Nieuwenhuis before being acquired by the Duke of Aumale.

It shows a scene from Plutarch's Life of Theseus. Theseus's mother Aethra and Theseus himself were both born in Troezen. She had had sex with both Poseidon and the mortal Aegeus, king of Athens, in Troezen on the same night. Before leaving her in Troezen to return to Athens, Aegeus left his sandals and sword under a heavy boulder and instructed that - if Aethra's son could lift the boulder and recover the items under it - he must come to Athens to Athens to meet his father. Theseus later managed to do so without effort, as shown in the painting.

Other depictions


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.