Founder-king of Athens in Greek Mythology. Son of Aegeus and Poseidon and one time sexual partner of Aethra. On the same level as Perseus, Cadmus, and Heracles. His name comes from the Greek root that means “The Gathering”.
He was responsible for synoikismos, which is Greek for “Dwelling Together”, the unification of Attica under Athens. This is represented in the journey of labours in which he subdued Ogres and monstrous beasts. As the unifying king, he built a palace in Acropolis and later established a cult of Aphrodite Pandemos, or “Aphrodite of all the people”, and Peitho. This cult was located on the Southern slope of Acropolis.
A literalistic biography, Plutarch's Vita, states that Theseus had various accounts of his defeat of the Minotaur, his escape, and Ariadne's love for him.
In his travels, Theseus came across six different tricksters, robbers, and people of ill intention of any sort. He often came to blows with them and defeated them in rather climactic or clever ways that played up his ability to use their own tactics against them.
Theseus was one of the Argonauts.
The ship Theseus used in his return to Athens from Crete was kept in the Athenian Harbor for several centuries acting as a memorial for Theseus after his passing. The ship was kept in a seafaring state in order to be used to honor Apollo, God of Light and Sun, by carrying out religious missions to the island of Delos. Delos was one of Apollo's most sacred sanctuaries. This was done every year and took weeks at a time. During the time of these religious trips, in order to preserve the purity of the occasion, no executions were permitted.
To keep the vessel in seafaring shape, worn and rotted wood was constantly being replaced. Due to this, it is unclear how much of the original ship remained, raising the question if it was still the “same ship” as it originally was. This has become a common question for vessels that undergo such lengths of service and extensive repairs, and is known as the “Ship of Theseus Paradox”.
Despite this questioning, the ship took on a divine providence due to Theseus' legend and stance as a historic figure whose actions and victories were doubted by no one.
For further reading on Theseus, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theseus