Theseus was a Greek hero in Greek mythology. While having all the qualities of a traditional hero, such as strength and courage, he was also intelligent and wise. His early adventures benefited the city and region of Athens, helping in the consolidation of the Athenian power through shrewd political maneuvering. He also led the Athenian army on a number of victorious campaigns. He was also credited as the founder of democracy, voluntarily transferring many of his powers as king over to an elected assembly. He gained a reputation for helping the poor and oppressed.
His shedding of power also made it easier for him to continue going on adventures after his rule. "Not without Theseus" became a popular Athenian saying, reflecting the belief he should be included in any important undertaking.
In middle age, his wisdom deserted him. He began going on foolish adventures, and making bad decisions. His efforts to produce an heir for the throne led to more problems. The people of Athens grew tired of the turmoil he produced. Eventually, he died in exile. The city did not bother to bring his body home.
Generations passed without much thought being given to Theseus. Then, during the Persian wars, Athenian soldiers reported seeing the ghost of Theseus and came to believe that he was responsible for their victories. The Athenian general Kimon received a command from the Oracle at Delphi to find Theseus' bones and return them to Athens. He did so, and he was reburied in a magnificent tomb that also served as a sanctuary for the defenseless.
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