And they that held the strong city of Athens, the people of great Erechtheus, who was born of the soil itself, but Jove's daughter, Minerva, fostered him, and established him at Athens in her own rich sanctuary. There, year by year, the Athenian youths worship him with sacrifices of bulls and rams. These were commanded by Menestheus, son of Peteos. No man living could equal him in the marshalling of chariots and foot soldiers. Nestor could alone rival him, for he was older. With him there came fifty ships.However, if one looks at Euripides' catalogue, in Iphigenia at Aulis (231ff), the leader of the Athenians, who brings 60 ships, is an unnamed son of Theseus. Elsewhere, the sons and heirs of Theseus, Demophon and Acamas, serve in the war, so Euripides is probably referring to Demophon. Demophon need not be the king, however.
The Athenian contribution in the Iliad is part of a passage that has raised questions since at least the fourth century, according to "Note on Iliad B 546-551," by William T. Magrath. Hermes, Vol. 105, No. 3 (1977), pp. 381-383. It may be a late interpolation. Another article that touches on the subject by looking at the chronology of Athenian kings is "Athena and the Early Acropolis," by R. J. Hopper. Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 10, Supplement: Parthenos and Parthenon (1963), pp. 1-16.
Menestheus is said to have been given the throne by the Dioscuri when Theseus went to the Underworld. The Dioscuri had an axe to grind since Theseus had abducted their sister Helen. When Theseus returned from the Underworld (thanks to the help of Hercules), Menestheus sent him into exile.
Trojan War FAQ Index
- Who created the Trojan Horse?
- Where in Homer is the Trojan Horse?
- Was Achilles in the Trojan Horse?
- Where does the expression "the face that launched 1000 ships" come from?
- Who was king of Athens during the Trojan War?
- Where does the expression "beware of Greeks bearing gifts" come from?
- Who is the son of Achilles?
- Did Hector kill Menelaus (king of Sparta)?
- Did Hector kill Ajax?
- How did Agamemnon die?
- Who was Briseis?