This book traces the development of the Theseus myth and its importance for Athens from the earliest evidence down to the end of the fifth century. The author examines all extant tragedy in which Theseus appears, even including the fragmentary drama in which Theseus is known to appear, toassess the significance of his role as mythological representative of Athenian greatness. The author argues that the Theseus of most Athenian tragedy is carefully drawn to exemplify the idealized image of the Athenian `national character' that was prevalent in the age of the Athenian empire. Every nation needs role models: the Athenians were no exception. Handsome, brave, intelligent, and just, Theseus seemed the perfect Athenian, but under the exterior lay a heartless seducer, rapist, and killer of his own son. The author describes Athenian attempts to cope with thesecontradictions in her discussion of how the Theseus of Athenian tragedy relates to Athenian life and imperial ideology.