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On this page: Theron – Thersander – Thersites – Theseus

1099

THESEUS,

artists and poets, and the victories he obtained at the Olympic games were immortalised by Pindar. The praises of the poet are confirmed by the more impartial testimony of Diodorus. (Pind. Ol. ii. iii.; Diod. xi. 3, x. Exc. Vales, p. 558.) A magni­ ficent monument was erected to him in the neigh­ bourhood of Agrigentum, at which heroic honours were paid to his memory. (Diod. /. c. and xiii. 86.) [E. H. B.]

THERON (Qrjpcoi'), a Boeotian statuary, who made the statue of the Olympic victor, Gorgus the son of Eucletus, a Messenian. (Paus. vi. 14. § 5. s. 11.) [P. S-]

THERSANDER, (©cptro^pos). 1. A son of Sisyphus, and father of Haliartus and Coronus. (Paus. ix. 34. § 5.)

2. A son of Agamididas, and the father of Lathria and Anaxandra, at Sparta. (Paus. iii. 16. §5.)

3. A son of Polyneices and Argeia, and one of the Epigoni; he was married to Demonassa, by whom he became the father of Tisamenus. After having been made king of Thebes, he went with Agamemnon to Troy, and was slain in that expe­dition by Telephus. His tomb was shown at Elaea in Mysia, and sacrifices were offered to him there. (Paus. iii. 15. § 4, vii. 3. § 1, ix. 5. § 7, x.

10. §2; Schol. ad Find. Ol ii. 76 ; Diet. Cret.

11. 2 ; Herod, iv. 147 ; Apollod. iii. 7. § 2.) Virgil (Aen. ii. 261) enumerates Thersander among the Greeks concealed in the wooden horse. Homer does not mention him. [L. S.]

THERSITES (©epo-f-njs), a son of Agrius, the most ugly and most impudent talker among the Greeks at Troy. Once, when he had spoken in the assembly in an unbecoming manner against Agamemnon, he was chastised bv Odysseus. (Horn, II. ii. 212, &c. ; Apollod. i. 8. § 6.) Ac­cording to the later poets he pulled the eyes out of the dead body of Penthesileia, the queen of the Amazons, who had been killed by Achilles, and also calumniated Achilles, for which, however, the latter slew him. (Tzetz. ad Lycoph. 999.) In the Lesche of Delphi he was represented by Polygno-tus in the act of playing at dice with Palamedes. (Paus. x. 31. § 1 ; Soph. Philoct. 442.) [L. S.]

THESEUS (Qyirevs), the great legendary hero of Attica, is one of those mythological per­sonages, whose legends it is by no means easy to disentangle, and represent in their original shape. The later belief of the Athenians, adopted and strengthened by writers of authority, represented him as a very much more historical person than he really was ; and, in consequence, the rationalistic mythologists took considerable pains to draw up a narrative of his life in which the supernatural should be kept as much as possible in the back ground, and the character in which the Athenians loved to regard him, as the founder of Attic nationality, be exhibited in as prominent a light as the received traditions allowed. This was avow­edly the method upon which Plutarch proceeded.

According to the commonly received traditions Theseus was the son of Aegeus, king of Athens, aud Aethra, the daughter of Pittheus, king of Troezen [aegeus]. Other legends, however, main­tained their ground, which represented him as the son of Poseidon by Aethra. (Plut. Thes. 6 ; Diod. iv. 59 ; Paus. i. 17. § 3 ; comp. aethra.) When he reached maturity, Theseus, by his mother's di­rections, took the sword and sandals, the tokens

THESEUS.

which had been left by Aegeus, and proceeded to Athens. Eager to emulate Hercules, he went by land, displaying his prowess by destroy­ing the robbers and monsters that infested the country. Periphetes, Sinis, Phaea the Crorn-myonian sow, Sciron, Cercyon, and Procrustes fell before the invincible hero. Arrived at Cephisus, he was purified by the Phytalidae. At Athens he was immediately recognised by Medea, who laid a plot for poisoning him at a banquet to which he was invited. By means of the sword which he carried, Theseus was recognised by Aegeus, acknow­ledged as his son, and declared his successor. The sons of Pallas, thus disappointed in their hopes of succeeding to the throne, attempted to secure the succession by violence, and declared war; but, being betrayed by the herald Leos, were destroyed. The capture of the Marathonian bull was the next exploit of Theseus [comp. hecalb]. It was this same enterprise in which Androgeos, the son of Minos, had perished. When the occasion returned on which the Athenians had to send to Minos their tribute of seven youths and seven maidens, Theseus voluntarily offered himself as one of the youths, with the design of slaying the Minotaur, or perishing in the attempt. When they arrived at Crete, Ariadne, the daughter of Minos, became enamoured of Theseus, and provided him with a sword with which he slew the Minotaur, and a clue of thread by which he found his way out of the labyrinth. Having effected his object, and rescued the band of victims, Theseus set sail, car­rying off Ariadne. (For the variations in the story, given by Cleidemus, the reader is referred to Plut. Thes. 19.) There were various accounts about Ariadne [ariadne], but most of them spoke of Theseus as having either lost or abandoned Ariadne on the island of Naxos. He was generally believed to have had by her two sons, Oenopion and Staphylus. As the vessel in which they sailed approached Attica, they neglected to hoist the white sail, which was to have been the signal that the ex­pedition had had a prosperous issue. The neglect led to the death of Aegeus [aegeijs], A vessel was in existence up to the time of Demetrius Pha-lereus, which it was pretended was the very ship in which Theseus had sailed to Crete. It was this vessel which was sent every year to Delos with the sacred envoys. It is worth noting, that al­though Homer mentions Ariadne as having been carried off by Theseus from Crete (Od. xi. 321), he says nothing about the Minotaur. All that part of the story is probably a later addition. The ex­pedition to Crete was probably, in its original form, only one of the somewhat numerous amatory adventures of Theseus, several of which are noticed by Plutarch (Thes. 29). Soon after he landed, Theseus is said to have instituted the festival termed Oschophoria (Dictionary of Antiquities, s. v. Osclioplioria). The origin of the Pyanepsia, and the reinstitution of the Isthmian games, were also ascribed to Theseus.

One of the most renowned of the adventures of Theseus was his expedition against the Amazons. He is said to have assailed them before they had recovered from the attack of Hercules, and to have carried off their queen Antiope. The Amazons in their turn invaded Attica, and penetrated into Athens itself, the final battle in which Theseus overcame them having been fought in the very midst of the city. Of the literal truth of this fact

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