The Origins of Aegeus
In Greek mythology, Aegeus (“Aigeús”), possibly from the Etruscan Aivas, 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, second in importance to Athena. He was a founder-hero, like Perseus, Cadmus, or Heracles, all of whom battled and overcame foes identified with an archaic religious and social order.
Aegeus was the son of Pandion (or Pallas), king of Athens or Tritonis. He was raised by the sea god Poseidon. Aegeus was originally a king of the island of Naxos. He went to Athens, where he married princess Aethra. This was his second marriage; his first wife had been an obscure Oceanid. With Aethra, he fathered Theseus. By his descent from Poseidon, Aegeus was himself considered a founding hero; he is the subject of one of Plutarch’s ” Parallel Lives “, who remarks upon this in his introduction.
Titan of the sea, father of Theseus
Aegeus was king of Naxos for some time, but when he married Aethra, she became queen instead. He left after she gave birth to Theseus, and when he returned, Aegeus battled Eumolpus for the position of titan king.
Aegeus told his people to stop attacking Athens while he was gone, but they did not stop. When Aegeus realized that they would never stop without help, he asked Theseus to go into battle and stop them. Theseus was victorious, and Aegeus resumed his rule.
Aegeus fought Eumolpus for the position of titan king but lost. Instead, he became mortal and lived in Athens with Aethra and their son Theseus. He was king of Athens for fifty years, but each time he left the city to go on an adventure, his people marched upon Attica. Aegeus asked Theseus to stop this; when he couldn’t, Aegeus jumped off a cliff at Megara.
Aegeus could turn into a goat. He was also able to repel any weapons with his shield. When he lost to Eumolpus, he lost all of his powers and became mortal.
Though Aegeus’ power cannot be pinpointed to any specific ability, he is known for his birthright of ruling the sea as Poseidon’s son. He also had a human side, making him susceptible to death by old age.
Aegeus History and Legacy
Aegeus is the name of one of our earliest, most famous kings in Greek mythology. He was said to be exceptionally loyal to Athena, and he had a son named Theseus.
Like many other characters within the mythology, Aegeus also has his share of troubles, which drag him down into madness. Although he could get through it, he did not find peace until the end of his days.
Aegeus was a son of Pandion and Zeuxippe , from Athens . Pandion II’s father ruled Athens before him, but Aegeus’ brother, Nisos, was given kingship instead.
Nisus and his daughter, Scylla, had a curse over them. The Palace of Nisos was near the sea. When Scylla entered it at night to practice magic, she heard an owl’s cry. Enchanted by it, she turned into a bird herself and flew off. From then on, her father made sure that no one living near the sea would hear an owl before seeing it.
Aegeus later succeeded his father as king of Athens and lived with Aethra. They had a son, whom they named Theseus. While fighting for the city’s independence from Megara, Aegeus went to fight The Pallantides. In a hurry, he forgot his sword at home. This was a moment for The Pallantides to think that Aegeus didn’t intend to return alive from this battle. When Theseus became an adult, he set off to find his father’s sword. On his way there, he was almost killed by a possible relative of Aegeus.
Luckily, an old lady appeared and stopped the man from killing Theseus. The lady guided him towards Athens, where the sword was hidden. On his journey home from Troezen, Theseus had to pass through Megara. When The Pallantides attacked again, Theseus killed them.
Aegeus was told that his son had died in battle; he threw himself into the sea, later named the Aegean Sea. He believed Theseus and the others had been killed by the minotaur because Theseus forgot to hoist the white sails upon their return to Athens. This is how the sea got its name.
Before his death, while Theseus was heading back home to Athens, Aegeus asked Poseidon to help him recognize his son. He wanted his son to regain his bravery as a descendant of the demigods. In honour of his father’s wishes, Theseus poured water from a jar into the sea.
When Poseidon saw this, he caused a huge wave to rise from the sea and wash over him and his horse. Theseus was awe-struck, and he promised to marry Poseidon’s daughter when she became an adult.
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