The Great Athenian Hero
Theseus is considered Athens’ founder and its greatest mythical hero. While the stories of his life (which, like all myths, sometimes conflict with one another) are filled with amazing deeds, he is most famous for killing the legendary half-man/half-bull monster known as the Minotaur. Every seven years, Athens was required to send 14 tributesâ€”seven young men and seven young womenâ€”to Crete, where King Minos would send them into his inescapable Labyrinth to be killed by the horrible creature. Theseus volunteered to go after learning about this, and with the help of Minos’ own daughter, Ariadne, Theseus killed the Minotaur and freed Athens from the terrible ritual.Theseus became king of Athens his father’s death, but rather than keep his royal power Theseus turned Athens into a commonwealth run by popular vote. Athens’ stature, influence, and realm expanded with him as its wise and just Commander-in-Chief; the people never knew such peace and happiness. His own personal exploits also grew longer, including helping Oedipus and Heracles, battling the Amazons, sailing on the Argo, and taking part in the great Calydonian Hunt. It’s also notable that he killed a drunk centaur who attacked a bride at a wedding before helping to defeat the centaurs in the battle that followed.Unfortunately, like all great Greek heroes, Theseus would also experience a great tragedy.
Theseus and his first wife (either the Amazonian Queen Hippolyta or her sister Antiope) had a son named Hippolytus. The young man was so devoted to Artemis, the goddess of nature, animals, and the earth, he completely shunned Aphrodite and any notion of love. To punish Hippolytus, Aphrodite made Theseus’ second wife Phaedra fall in love with her stepson. When he rejected her advances she killed herself, leaving behind a note saying Hippolytus had raped her.In his rage, Theseus banished his son and called upon Poseidon to grant one of the three wishes the god had promised Theseus. As Hippolytus rode away a monster rose from the sea and scared his chariot’s horses. Hippolytus was mortally wounded in the crash; only then did Artemis appeared to tell Theseus, who would one day suffer his own horrible death, the truth of what had happened.
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Connections with Theseus Scamander
Like his mythological counterpart, Theseus Scamander is a renowned war hero, having bravely fought in WWI even though wizards were not supposed to get involved. He’s so famous that when Newt popped out of his suitcase in the first Fantastic Beasts, the name “Scamander” had some asking if he was Theseus. Also, just like the Athenian founder, Newt’s brother fights for what’s right as the Head Auror at the Ministry of Magic.Theseus is also engaged to Leta Lestrange, Newt’s former romantic interest. We don’t know if that’s why the two brothers have a strained relationship as the trailers have shown. It’s possible they have never gotten along, since they don’t seem very much alike. Theseus’s relationship with Leta might have just made things worse.The two Scamander boys do share one thing in common, though: Ancient Greek names. Newt’s middle name is, quite fittingly considering his work and life’s passion, Artemis.
The Potential for Tragedy
“You never met a monster you couldn’t love.” – Leta Lestrange to Newt in The Crimes of GrindelwaldNewt’s totally devoted to protecting magical animals, even the most dangerous. It’s hard to pick a name for his brother that screams the opposite of caring for creatures more than the hero famous for killing the Minotaur and a centaur. We also know “love” in the form of Aphrodite destroyed the mythical Theseus’ family, which doesn’t bode well for two brothers who both love the same woman.What will happenÂ Leta Lestrange proves to be Grindelwald’s daughter? If she joins her father, will her fiancÃ© follow her? It would put Theseus and Newt on opposite sides of the great wizarding civil war, which Grindelwald is destined to lose. Even if Theseus Scamander joins him for the “right” reasons it could lead to his downfall, a tragic ending because of love. It’s the same thing we’re worried about with Queenie Goldstein, who could join Grindelwald in hopes of being with Jacob. Those might seem like some dark, dire predictions for a movie director David Yates has said will be an “interesting thriller/love story.” But he has also said the film will explore the notion of “being corrupted” by love.It’s not all doom and gloom, though. It’s possible J.K. Rowling chose the name Theseus because he helped kill a half-human/half-beast, which might literally describe Grindelwald. But when even the greatest Greek heroes find tragedy it’s hard not to worry that she chose this name because of the terrible decision he will make to stand opposite his brother.What do you think? Does the name Theseus have you worried or optimistic? Tell us why in the comments below.
Images: Warner Bros.