Theseus (UK: //, US: //; Greek: Θησεύς [tʰɛːsěu̯s]) was the mythical king and founder-hero of Athens. His role in history has been called "a major cultural transition, like the making of the new Olympia by Hercules.": 204 The myths surrounding Theseus—his journeys, exploits, and friends—have provided material for fiction throughout the ages.
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Theseus is sometimes described as the son of Aegeus, King of Athens, and sometimes as the son of the god Poseidon. He is raised by his mother, Aethra, and when he discovers his connection to Aegeus travels overland to Athens, having many adventures on the way. When he reaches Athens, he finds that Aegeus is married to Medea (formerly wife of Jason), who plots against him.
The most famous legend about Theseus is his slaying of the Minotaur, half man and half bull. He then goes on to unite Attica under Athenian rule: the synoikismos ('dwelling together'). As the unifying king, he is credited with building a palace on the fortress of the Acropolis. Pausanias reports that after the synoikismos, Theseus established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos ('Aphrodite of all the People') on the southern slope of the Acropolis.
Plutarch's avowed purpose is to construct a life that parallels the Life of Romulus, the founding myth of Rome. Plutarch's sources, not all of whose texts have survived independently, included Pherecydes (mid-fifth century BCE), Demon (c. 400 BCE), Philochorus, and Cleidemus (both fourth century BCE). As the subject of myth, the existence of Theseus as a real person has not been proven, but scholars believe that he may have been alive during the Late Bronze Age possibly as a king in the 8th or 9th century BCE.