The Library of History

Page 161

Page 161 a Constellation of Stars, call'd Ariadna's Crown. Theseus they say, was so griev'd to be thus bereav'd of the Young Lady, that through Sorrow and Vexation, he forgot the Commands of Aegeus, and made into the Port of Athens with black Sails. At which sight, Aegeus concluding that his Son was destroy'd, resolv'd upon an Heroick, but a sad and lamentable Action; for he went up to the top of the Citadel (and through the excessiveness of his Grief, counting his Life a Burden to him) he threw himself down Headlong. After his Death Theseus succeeded him in the Kingdom, and govern'd according to the Laws, and ordered and performed many things, which conduc'd to the welfare and increase of the City. The most famous and remarkable among all the rest was this, That he gather'd all the People together that were scatter'd Abroad in the Country (and so were more considerable for their Number than their Power) and brought them into Athens. From this time the largeness of the City did so puff up the Athenians, and swell them with that confidence, that they question'd not but to be Lords of all Greece. But having said enough of these things, we shall go on with those that remain concerning Theseus, and which afterwards happened to him.

Deucalion, the Eldest of Minos's Sons, reigning in Crete, enter'd into a League with the Athenians, and Marry'd his own Sister Phoedra to Theseus.

After his Marriage he sent away his Son Hippolytus, whom he had by the Amazon, to Troezena, to be bred and brought up by his Sister Aethra: Of Phoedra he begat Acamantes and Demophon.

Hippolytus a while after coming to Athens to the Celebration of a great Festival, Phoedra was so taken with his Beauty, that she fell passionately in love with him: But he going back again for that time, she built near to the Citadel the Temple of Venus, whence she might have a prospect of Traezene.

Afterwards going with Theseus to Traezene to visit Pittheus, she solicited Hippolytus to lye with her; who refusing the Motion, her Love was turn'd into Hatred and Rage, and therefore she accus'd him to her Husband, that he attempted to Ravish her. Theseus suspecting the truth of what she said, summon'd Hippolytus to appear and answer the Accusation; but Phoedra fearing she should be discover'd upon the Trial of the Cause, hang'd herself.

When Hippolytus first heard of the Accusation, he was driving a Chariot; upon the News whereof, he was in such a Consternation and Disturbance, that he let the Reins fall; which so startled the Horses, that they hurried him away, and broke the Chariot in Pieces; and he himself being fastn'd in the Harness, was drag'd along upon the Ground, and so perish'd. Hippolytus thus losing his Life upon the account of his commendable Chastity, was ador'd by the Troezenians as a God. Theseus afterwards by a Sedition being driven out of the City, died in Banishment. But the Athenians being sorry for what they had done, brought back his Bones, and honour'd him as a God, and the Place where they bury'd him in the midst of Athens, they made a Sanctuary, which from him was call'd Theseion.

Since we have proceeded so far in the Story of Theseus, we shall give a distinct account also of the Rape of Helen, and of the intention of Perithous to court Proserpina; for these things have a Relation to the History of Theseus.

Perithous the Son of Ixion, after the Death of his Wife Hippodamia, by whom he had a Son call'd Polypodes, went to Athens to Theseus; whom finding a Widower (having then lately bury'd his Wife Phoedra) he advis'd to steal away Helen, the Daughter of Jupiter and Laeda, who was then about Ten Years of Age, and of surpassing Beauty: To this end they went (with some other of their Associates) to Lacedemon, and catching a fit opportunity for the purpose, seiz'd upon Helen, as their common Prize, and carry'd her away to Athens; where it was agreed between them, to cast Lots for her, and that he who should have the good Fortune to gain her, should faithfully assist the other (through all Hazards whatsoever) in procuring him another Wife. This Compact being confirm'd by a Solemn Oath, she fell by Lot to Theseus. The Athenians were much incens'd at what was done in this Business: Theseus therefore fearing the bad effect of it, privately kept Helen at Aphidna, one of the Cities of Attica, and committed her to the care of his Mother Aethra, and some other Persons of Quality that were his Faithful Friends.

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books