87. Medea tries to kill Theseus

Once upon a time, Medea, after taking her revenge on Jason, and escaping in her chariot drawn by enchanted winged dragons, arrived at Athens, where King Aegeus offered her protection from all the evil that she had done. Aegeus joined her to him in wedlock, and also had a child by her, forgetting that years ago, when he had visited Troezen, he had conceived a son named Theseus.

Medea lived in Athens happily, until Theseus arrived. With her magical arts, she recognized Theseus as the son of Aegeus. She knew that earlier, when Aegeus had visited King Pittheus of Troezen, he had consorted with Aethra, the daughter of Pittheus. Thereafter, he hid his sword beneath a rock, and had told Aethra that if she bore him a son, then she should tell her son to remove the rock, take the sword and travel to Athens. The sword would be the sign that he was the son of Aegeus.

With the sword, Theseus came to Athens and Medea feared that instead of her own son, Theseus would inherit the throne of Athens. However, Aegeus did not see the sword and failed, to recognize Theseus as his son. Medea convinced Aegeus that Theseus would kill him. So Aegeus sent Theseus to fight the Marathonian bull, where he would certainly die. But the heroic Theseus killed the bull. Then Medea told Aegeus to invite Theseus for a drink, where the cup of Theseus would be poisoned with aconite.

Accordingly, Aegeus invited Theseus, but when the trusting Theseus was about to drink, Aegeus saw the sword of Theseus. Aegeus recognized the sword as his own sword, since on its ivory hilt, it bore his royal insignia. Immediately, Aegeus realized that Theseus was Aethra’s son and instantly, Aegeus struck Theseus’ cup, which fell on the ground, without being ever touched by Theseus’ lips. The happy Aegeus lovingly embraced Theseus and declared that Theseus was his son. Seeing this, Medea, raised a dark whirlwind, and in it she escaped.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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