Aegeus | King of Athens

Aegeus Greek Mythology

Aegeus, in Greek mythology, was the son of Pandion II, father of Theseus and king of Athens. In some versions, he is not the father of Theseus, who would be the son of Posidon.

Birth in exile

His father,Pandion II, king of Athens, was the son of Cicrope II and Metiadusa, daughter of Eupalamus; Cicrope was the son of Erectheus and Praxiteia; Pandion II was driven out of Athens by the Metionids, sons of Metion. Metion was the brother of Cicrope, or, according to Diodorus Siculo, the son of Eupalamus, son of Erectheus.

Pandion fled to Mégara, according to Pausanias, because he was married to the daughter of King Pylas, but according to Pseudo-Apolodorus, Pandion married Pylas' daughter after he took refuge in Mégara. When Pylas killed Bias, his father's brother, and went to the Peloponnese to found the city of Pilos, he passed the kingdom to Pandion II.

According to Pseudo-Apolodorus, Pandion II's sons were born in Megara, and were named Aegeus, Pallas, Niso and Lycus. Pseudo-Apolodorus mentions a version that Aegeus would not be the son of Pandion II, but of Scyrius, having been adopted by Pandion. Pandion II became ill and died in Megara, where he was buried.

Recapture of Athens

Pandion's sons returned to Athens and drove out the Methionides, reclaiming the kingdom for Aegean, or dividing the kingdom into four, with Aegean holding supreme power.

Birth of Theseus

Aegeus married two women, Meta, daughter of Hoples and Chalciope, daughter of Rhexenor, but had no children with either of them; fearing he would lose the kingdom to his brothers (Palas, Niso, and Lico), Aegeus consulted Pythia, but did not understand her answer.

On his return to Athens, Aegeus stayed at Trezena, whose king Pythia, son of Pelopus, understanding the oracle, made Aegeus get drunk, and lie with his daughter Etra. The same night, however, Poseidon also lay with Etra.

Theseus was in Trezena when Medea came to Athens and married Aegeus. Medea tried to murder Theseus, but her plot was discovered, and she fled.

War with Minos

Androgeus, son of Minos, king of Crete, won all the trials of the Panathenaic games arousing the envy of King Aegean, who invited him to kill the bull of Marathon. Androgeus was killed by the animal and his father, Minos, invaded Attica.

In this war, Niso was attacked by Minos. Niso had a purple hair on his head, and the oracle had said that he would die when this hair was taken away; his daughter Scylla fell in love with Minos, pulled out the hair, and caused his death. Minos, after becoming master of Megara, tied Scylla by her feet to his ship and drowned her.

Minos failed to take Athens, and prayed to Zeus for revenge, which caused Athens to suffer famine and plague. With the defeat of King Aegean, Minos imposed a tribute of seven boys and seven girls who were to be sacrificed to the Minotaur every nine years.

Arrival of Theseus

Theseus arrived in Athens and expelled Medea.

Theseus and the Minotaur

Aegeus asks Theseus to go and kill the Minotaur. He arranged with his son that he would go with the black sails, and if he returned alive, he would raise the white sails. If he died, the crew would carry the body with the black sails raised.

Theseus goes to Crete and kills the Minotaur, but on his return, full of happiness for having defeated the monster, he leaves the black sails, and Aegeus, thinking that Theseus had died, kills himself, throwing himself into the sea, which is now called the Aegean Sea.