Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea

Aegeus who was he and what is his roleAegeus is associated with founding Athens and being the father of Theseus. There are a lot of important events to his name in the mythology. 

The death of Aegeus Greek mythology was surely very tragic and a result of a misunderstanding and forgetfulness on the part of his son, Theseus. Here we have gathered the most authentic information about Aegeus, his life, death, and relations.


The beauty of Greek mythology is that it has every possible storyline in it. It has sadness, love, jealousy, hatred, and basically every mood and feeling. The story of Aegeus is majorly sad. He was known as the heirless king but a king nonetheless.

He wanted an heir to carry on his name and riches all his life. He had everything except a son or even a daughter. He married twice but both times, none of the wives could bore him anything. He was hopeless in the face of getting an heir and this was his biggest regret.

He went to a lot of people for help. He got every possible magic done, and every spell and ritual was performed to perfection but nature did not want to give him any child of his own.

Origin and Family of Aegeus

Aegeus was the oldest son of Pandion II, who was the king of Athens, and Pylia was the daughter of King Pylas of Megara. The couple had four children so Aegeus was a brother to Pallas, Nysus, and Lykos. Some places regarded him as the son of Scyrius or Phemius. So there was a conflict of opinion between his birth parents.

Nevertheless. Aegeus lived an entire life. He played with the riches of his family. He had never seen anything that he could not get. He and his siblings learned every warfare trick in the book and grew up to be the perfect children who would run their own nations.

Aegeus’ first wife was Meta who was the eldest daughter of Hopeless. The marriage was extravagant and the couple was very happy to have been married. Things started taking a turn when Meta wouldn’t get pregnant. Aegeus remarried and this time his second wife was Chalciope who was the daughter of Rhexenor but she also did not bore him any children.

Aegeus and Oracle at Delphi

As Aegeus was still without any heir, he started going to people who were saints for help. He eventually went to Oracle at Delphi for any sort of help and advice that he could offer. The oracle gave him a cryptic message so he left Delphi. On his way back to Athens he met  Pittheus, the king of Troezen, who was known for his wisdom and skill at expounding oracles.

He told the king the cryptic message, who understood what it meant, in addition to this he offered his daughter Aethra to Aegeus. At night when Aegeus was drunk, he impregnated Aethra. In some places, it is narrated that after Aegeus fell asleep, Aethra waded off to an island and slept with Poseidon on the same night.

Soon after that Aegeus found out that Aethra is pregnant, he decided to go back to Athens and left his sandal, sword, and shield under a rock for his son to find when he grows up. When Aegeus returned to Athens, he married Medea and had a son named Medus. Even though Aegeus had a son now, he always longed for his son from Aethra.

Aegeus and Theseus

The son grew up with the name Theseus. He was a brave warrior and an exceptional son to Aethra. One fine day, he stumbled upon the rock and found a sandal, a shield, and a sword buried there. He took them to Aethra who then explained his origins to him. Theseus was overjoyed on learning that he had a father and set out to meet him.

While on his way to Athens, Theseus planned that he would not straight up go tell Aegeus the truth. He would wait and see how his father is and will decide on staying later. This is exactly what he did. He went there as an ordinary man and pretended to be a trader.

Aegeus was so kind to him that Theseus had to tell him. Aegeus was the happiest man on Earth when he learned the truth about his son. He announced celebrations in the city and made everyone meet Theseus. Aegeus and Theseus finally started living their lives as father and son but things only started to turn for the worst.

Aegeus and The War With Crete

The King of Crete, Minos, and his son, Androgeus were visiting Athens. Androgeus managed to defeat Aegeus in every game of the Panathenaic Games which made Aegeus furious. Aegeus challenged Androgeus to conquer the Marathonian Bull, which in return killed him. King Minos declared a war on Athens on the notion that Aegeus deliberately got Androgeus killed.

The only way around the war was to fulfill the demand of King Minos which was that Athens would send seven young women and seven young men each month to Crete, It was a total of nine months, to feed their Minotaur.

This was a brutal demand and Aegeus being the loving and caring king, could not let his people die for something so trivial. Therefore, what happened was Theseus promised to fight the Minotaur and in return wanted peace between Crete and Athens.

The Death of Aegeus

Theseus had gone to Crete to kill the Minotaur that had been eating the men and women from Athens. He went there alone without his father, Aegeus. Aegeus had asked Theseus that when he was to return he should hoist white sails if he was successful in killing the vicious beast and if he was alive and well. While arriving back in Athens, Theseus forgot the promise he had made to his father.

Aegeus could see the black sails on his son’s ship. He remembered the promise that he took from his son and thought that Theseus had died while killing the minotaur. He could not bear it. He jumped right into the sea, giving his life away.

Theseus came to know of his father’s death when his ship came on the dock. He instantly fell to the ground crying and felt so much pain within him. The sea is called the Aegean sea because the corpse of Aegeus lies inside it.


Is Theseus the Son of Poseidon?

In some accounts, Theseus is portrayed as the son of Poseidon. Poseidon and Theseus’ mother, Aethra secretly consummated when she was promised to Aegeus. She never told Aegeus which is why Theseus never found out that he was the son of Poseidon.

Why Does the Color of the Sails Matter?

In ancient times, the color of the sails was given specific meanings. Anyone could see the color from a distance and speculate about the situation. For example, a black sail means that the ship is coming to cause problems and is dangerous or is in mourning over the loss of someone whereas a white sail means that the ships and its people come in peace or victory.


Aegeus was a significant character in Greek mythology because of his story. He was called the Heirless king until king Pittheus of Troezen helped him. The duo of Theseus and Aegeus is quite special and they share a bond like no other. Here are the main points that we covered throughout the article:Aegeus in greek mythology

  • Aegeus was the oldest son of Pandion II, who was the king of Athens, and Pylia, and was the daughter of King Pylas of Megara. He was a brother to Pallas, Nysus, and Lykos.
  • Aegeus had two wives, Meta and Chalciope, but none of them could give Aegeus an heir who is why he was called the Heriless King. Hence, Aegeus looked for help and ways to get an heir somehow.
  • The daughter of King Pitteus, Aethera was finally impregnated by Aegeus and bore him a son that lived away from Aegeus for a long while.
  • Aegeus and Theseus, son of Aethera, were finally reunited and started living happily.
  •  Theseus went to kill the Minotaur in Crete and, on his return, forgot to change the color of his sail from black to white, as he promised Aegeus. Aegeus saw the black sails and jumped into the sea.

The story of Aegeus ends in tragedy. Theseus went on with sheer remorse but lived his life in Athens. Here we come to the end of the article about Aegeus.

Ancient Literature (May 29, 2023) Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea. Retrieved from
"Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea." Ancient Literature - May 29, 2023,
Ancient Literature August 9, 2022 Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea., viewed May 29, 2023,<>
Ancient Literature - Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea. [Internet]. [Accessed May 29, 2023]. Available from:
"Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea." Ancient Literature - Accessed May 29, 2023.
"Aegeus: The Reason Behind the Name of Aegean Sea." Ancient Literature [Online]. Available: [Accessed: May 29, 2023]

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *