According to some accounts a son of Pandion II, king of Athens, and of Pylia, while others call him a son of Scyrius or Phemius, and state that he was only an adopted son of Pandion.1 Pandion had been expelled from his kingdom by the Metionids, but Aegeus in conjunction with his brothers, Pallas, Nisus, and Lycus restored him, and Aegeus being the eldest of the brothers succeeded Pandion. Aegeus first married Meta, a daughter of Hoples, and then Chalciope, the daughter of Rhexenor (1), neither of whom bore him any children.2 He ascribed this misfortune to the anger of Aphrodite, and in order to conciliate her introduced her worship at Athens.3 Afterwards he begot Theseus by Aethra at Troezen.4
When Theseus had grown up to manhood, and was informed of his descent, he went to Athens and defeated the fifty sons of his uncle Pallas, who claiming the kingly dignity of Athens, had made war upon Aegeus and deposed him, and also wished to exclude Theseus from the succession.5 Aegeus was restored, but died soon after. His death is related in the following manner: When Theseus went to Crete to deliver Athens from the tribute it had to pay to Minos, he promised his father that on his return he would hoist white sails as a signal of his safety. On his approach to the coast of Attica he forgot his promise, and his father, who was watching on a rock on the seacoast, on perceiving the black sail, thought that his son had perished and threw himself into the sea, which according to some traditions received from this event the name of the Aegaean sea.6
Aegeus was one of the eponymous heroes of Attica; and one of the Attic tribes (Aegeis) derived its name from him.8 His grave, called the heroum of Aegeus, was believed to be at Athens,9 and Pausanias mentions two statues of him, one at Athens and the other at Delphi, the latter of which had been made of the tithes of the booty taken by the Athenians at Marathon.10
- Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 5.3 ff.; Scholiast on Lycophron, 494; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 15.5.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 15.6 ff.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 14.6.
- Plutarch. Theseus, 3; Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library iii, 15.7; Hyginus. Fabulae, 37.
- Plutarch. Theseus, 13.
- Plutarch. Theseus, 22; Diodorus Siculus, iv, 61; Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 22.5; Hyginus. Fabulae, 43; Servius on Virgil's Aeneid iii, 74.
- Pseudo-Apollodorus. The Library i, 9.28; Hyginus. Fabulae, 26.
- Pausanias. Description of Greece i, 5.2.
- ibid. i, 22.5.
- ibid. i, 5.2, x, 10.1.
- Smith, William. (1870). Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology. London: Taylor, Walton, and Maberly.
This article incorporates text from Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology (1870) by William Smith, which is in the public domain.