View your list of saved words. (You can log in using Facebook.)
Definition of THESEUS
: a king of Athens in Greek mythology who kills Procrustes and the Minotaur before defeating the Amazons and marrying their queen
Origin of THESEUS
Latin, from Greek Thēseus
First Known Use: 14th century
Theseus killing the Minotaur, detail of a vase painting by the Kleophrades Painter, 6th century —Courtesy of the trustees of the British Museum
Hero of ancient Greek legend. He was the son of Aegeus, king of Athens. On his journey to Athens, he slew many legendary villains, including Sinis, Sciron, and Procrustes. In Athens he found Aegeus married to Medea; she recognized him before her husband did and tried to poison him but failed, and Aegeus declared him heir to the throne. In Crete Theseus met Ariadne and slew the Minotaur; on returning to Athens, he forgot to replace the ship's black sail with a white one signaling his victory, and Aegeus threw himself from the Acropolis in grief. Theseus went on to unite and extend the borders of Attica. He captured the Amazon princess Antiope (Hippolyte), with the result that the Amazons attacked Athens and Antiope was killed while defending it. He abducted the child Helen and attempted to steal Persephone from Hades, but he was confined in the underworld until his rescue by Heracles. He died when the king of Scyros threw him from a cliff.