P. 292 (with art)

Chapter 9, Theseus’ Later Exploits

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Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.28.2

Polygnotus followed, I think, the poem called the Minyad. For in this poem occur lines referring to Theseus and Peirithous:—“Then the boat on which embark the dead, that the old Ferryman, Charon, used to steer, they found not within its moorings.” The Minyad, an unknown work. For this reason then Polygnotus too painted Charon as a man well stricken in years. Greek Text

Pausanias, Description of Greece 9.31.5

There is another tradition, very different from the first, that Hesiod wrote a great number of poems; the one on women, the one called the Great Eoeae, the Theogony, the poem on the seer Melampus, the one on the descent to Hades of Theseus and Perithous, the Precepts of Chiron, professing to be for the instruction of Achilles, and other poems besides the Works and Days.  Greek Text

Hesiod, Peirithou Katabasis fr 280 MW – Fragmenta Hesiodea, pp. 139-40, ed.  Merkelbach and M.L. West. Oxford 1967.

“…to destroy me by violence and his great spear, but ruinous Fate and Leto’s son destroyed me. But come now! Tell me this thoroughly…you arrived in Hades…your trusty companion followed together…what according to need…first, tell the story”…”towards the people’s shepherd…the horrid goddess, the Fury, o Zeus-born Meleager, son of warlike Oineus, therefore I shall explain this very precisely…noble Persephone…Zeus, delighting in thunder, so that he might betroth his wife by the gods’ customs…they say they were siblings…to woo and to wed apart from their dear parents…by the gods he swears to marry his own sister by the same father. For he says that he himself was nearly born of great Hades to Persephone, daughter of fair-haired Demeter. He says that he himself, a brother and of the same father…dear Hades has prepared his patrimony. On account of this, he said, we went underneath the murky darkness.” So he spoke, and Meleager was horror-struck when he heard the story. He answered, speaking with soothing words, “Theseus, adviser of the Athenians, armed with breastplates…if the thoughtful wife…of great-spirited Peirithous…” (Transl. Aaron J. Ivey)

Olympia, Archaeological Museum B 4918/9 (B 2198 cited in text): bronze shield-band relief with Theseus and Peirithoos in Hades

Digital LIMC

Polygnotos’ Nekuia painting at Knidian Lesche, Delphi (known through Pausanias’ description and modern reconstructions)

Pausanias, Description of Greece 10.29.9

Lower down than Odysseus are Theseus and Peirithous sitting upon chairs. The former is holding in his hands the sword of Peirithous and his own. Peirithous is looking at the swords, and you might conjecture that he is angry with them for having been useless and of no help in their daring adventures. Panyassis the poet says that Theseus and Peirithous did not sit chained to their chairs, but that the rock grew to their flesh and so served as chains.  Greek Text


Detail with Theseus and Peirithoos, from C. Robert’s reconstruction of Polygnotos’ Nekuia, J.G. Frazer, Pausanias’s Description of Greece, vol. V, Commentary (2nd ed. 1913), pl. opposite p. 372.

Panyasis, Herakleia fr 14 PEG – Poetae Epici Graeci1, p. 179, ed. A. Bernabé. Leipzig 1987.

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Edited by Aaron J. Ivey, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Department of Classics, Univ. of Georgia, June 2016; and Frances Van Keuren, Prof. Emerita, Lamar Dodd School of Art, Univ. of Georgia, July 2016.

Literary sources updated by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, May 2023.

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