P. 255

Bacchylides, Ode 18 (Dithyramb 4) Theseus [for the Athenians] 16-30:

Just now a herald arrived, having come by foot on the long road from the Isthmus. He tells of the indescribable deeds of a mighty man. That man killed overweening Sinis, who was the greatest of mortals in strength; he is the son of Lytaeus the Earthshaker, son of Cronus. And he has slain the man-killing boar in the valleys of Cremmyon, and reckless Sciron. He has closed the wrestling school of Cercyon; Procoptes has met a better man and dropped the powerful hammer of Polypemon. I fear how this will end (original Greek).

Euripedes, Medeia 708-730:

Medea: He pretends not to, but he is ready to put up with it.

Medea kneels before Aegeus in the posture of a suppliant.

M: But I beg you by your beard [710] and by your knees and I make myself your suppliant: have pity, have pity on an unfortunate woman, and do not allow me to be cast into exile without a friend, but receive me into your land and your house as a suppliant. If you do so, may your longing for children [715] be brought to fulfillment by the gods, and may you yourself die happy! You do not know what a lucky find you have made in me. I will put an end to your childlessness and cause you to beget children, for I know the medicines to do it.

Aegeus: Dear woman, for many reasons [720] I am eager to grant you this favor, first, for the sake of the gods, then for the children you promise I will beget. For on that score I am utterly undone. But here is how matters stand with me. If you come to my country, I shall in justice try to act as your protector. [725] This much, however, I tell you in advance: I will not consent to take you from this land. But if you manage by yourself to come to my house, you may stay there in safety, and I will never give you up to anyone. You must go on your own, then, from this land. [730] I wish to be blameless in the eyes of my hosts as well (original Greek).

Apollodoros, Epitome 1.5-6

But Medea, being then wedded to Aegeus, plotted against him and persuaded Aegeus to beware of him as a traitor. And Aegeus, not knowing his own son, was afraid and sent him against the Marathonian bull.

And when Theseus had killed it, Aegeus presented to him a poison which he had received the selfsame day from Medea. But just as the draught was about to be administered to him, he gave his father the sword, and on recognizing it Aegeus dashed the cup from his hands. And when Theseus was thus made known to his father and informed of the plot, he expelled Medea (Original Greek).

Ovid, Metamorphoses 7.404-424:

All unknown to him
came Theseus to his kingly court.—Before
the time his valor had established peace
on all the isthmus, raved by dual seas.

Medea, seeking his destruction, brewed
the juice of aconite, infesting shores
of Scythia, where, ’tis fabled, the plant grew
on soil infected by Cerberian teeth.

There is a gloomy entrance to a cave,
that follows a declivitous descent:
there Hercules with chains of adamant
dragged from the dreary edge of Tartarus
that monster-watch-dog, Cerberus, which, vain
opposing, turned his eyes aslant from light—
from dazzling day. Delirious, enraged,
that monster shook the air with triple howls;
and, frothing, sprinkled as it raved, the fields,
once green—with spewing of white poison-foam.
And this, converted into plants, sucked up
a deadly venom with the nourishment
of former soils,—from which productive grew
upon the rock, thus formed, the noxious plant;
by rustics, from that cause, named aconite.

Medea worked on Aegeus to present
his own son, Theseus, with a deadly cup
of aconite; prevailing by her art
so that he deemed his son an enemy.

Theseus unwittingly received the cup,
but just before he touched it to his lips,
his father recognized the sword he wore,
for, graven on its ivory hilt was wrought
a known device—the token of his race.
Astonished, Aegeus struck the poison-cup
from his devoted son’s confiding lips.
Medea suddenly escaped from death,
in a dark whirlwind her witch-singing raised (original Latin).

Plutarch, Theseus 12.2-3

For Medea, who had fled thither from Corinth, and promised by her sorceries to relieve Aegeus of his childlessness, was living with him. She learned about Theseus in advance, and since Aegeus was ignorant of him, and was well on in years and afraid of everything because of the faction in the city, she persuaded him to entertain Theseus as a stranger guest, and take him off by poison. Theseus, accordingly, on coming to the banquet, thought best not to tell in advance who he was, but wishing to give his father a clue to the discovery, when the meats were served, he drew his sword, as if minded to carve with this, and brought it to the notice of his father.

Aegeus speedily perceived it, dashed down the proffered cup of poison, and after questioning his son, embraced him, and formally recognized him before an assembly of the citizens, who received him gladly because of his manly valor. And it is said that as the cup fell, the poison was spilled where now is the enclosure in the Delphinium,1 for that is where the house of Aegeus stood, and the Hermes to the east of the sanctuary is called the Hermes at Aegeus’s gate.

Plutarch, Theseus 14

But Theseus, desiring to be at work, and at the same time courting the favour of the people, went out against the Marathonian bull, which was doing no small mischief to the inhabitants of the Tetrapolis. After he had mastered it, he made a display of driving it alive through the city, and then sacrificed it to the Delphinian Apollo.

Now the story of Hecale and her receiving and entertaining Theseus on this expedition seems not to be devoid of all truth. For the people of the townships round about used to assemble and sacrifice the Hecalesia to Zeus Hecalus, and they paid honors to Hecale, calling her by the diminutive name of Hecaline, because she too, when entertaining Theseus, in spite of the fact that he was quite a youth, caressed him as elderly people do, and called him affectionately by such diminutive names.

And since she vowed, when the hero was going to his battle with the bull, that she would sacrifice to Zeus if he came back safe, but died before his return, she obtained the above mentioned honors as a return for her hospitality at the command of Theseus, as Philochorus has written (Original Greek).

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