On coming back from the quest for the Golden Fleece, the heroes returned to their own homes, where they continued their efforts to make their people happy.
Theseus, one of the heroes, returned to Athens, and founded a yearly festival in honor of the goddess Athena. This festival was called Panathenaea, which means “all the worshipers of Athena.” It proved a great success, and was a bond of union among the people, who thus learned each other’s customs and manners, and grew more friendly than if they had always staid at home.
Theseus is one of the bestknown among all the Greek heroes. Besides going with Jason in the “Argo,” he rid his country of many robbers, and sailed to Crete. There he visited Minos, the king, who, having some time before conquered the Athenians, forced them to send him every year a shipload of youths and maidens, to feed to a monster which he kept in the Labyrinth.
To free his country from this tribute, Theseus, of his own free will, went on board the ship. When he reached Crete, he went first into the Labyrinth, and killed the monster with his sword. Then he found his way out of the maze by means of a long thread which the king’s daughter had given him. One end of it he carried with him as he entered, while the other end was fastened to the door.
His old father, Aegeus, who had allowed him to go only after much persuasion, had told him to change the black sails of his vessel for white if he were lucky enough to escape. Theseus promised to do so, but he entirely forgot it in the joy of his return.
Aegeus, watching for the vessel day after day, saw it coming back at last; and when the sunlight fell upon the black sails, he felt sure that his son was dead.
His grief was so great at this loss, that he fell from the rock where he was standing down into the sea, and was drowned. In memory of him, the body of water near the rock is still known as the Aegean Sea.