The Theseus Novels
|Name:||The King Must Die|
The Bull from the Sea
|Country of Origin:||South Africa|
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Mary Renault's two Theseus Novels (The King Must Die, 1958; The Bull from the Sea, 1962) focus on the life of Theseus, a hero in Ancient Greek mythology. However, rather than simply novelizing the myth, Renault attempted historical fiction, using contemporary archæological knowledge of the period in order to create a plausible narrative.
The King Must Die is the first book. It focuses on Theseus’ childhood and young adulthood, covering his upbringing in Troizen; brief reign as Kerkyon in Eleusis; acceptance by his father Aigeus (King of Athens); enslavement in the Bull Courts of Crete (where he kills the Minotaur); seduction of Ariadne; and return to Athens by way of Naxos.
The Bull from the Sea covers Theseus’ reign in Athens; the battle with the Kentaurs; his coastal raids with Pirithoos; abduction and marriage to Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and the birth of their son Hippolytus; marriage to Phaedra; Hippolytus’ death ; and Theseus’ own downfall and death.
There has never been a chapter-by-chapter discussion of either of the Theseus novels within the maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community. Nonetheless, there have been discussions about certain aspects of these books, always sparked by a fan re-reading them.
In Their Own Words
In 2008 maryrenaultfics began a project which involved ‘interviews’ of characters from Renault’s novels. Questions were posed of Theseus, but in the end no one opted to answer them. Theseus appeared briefly in 2008 in the ‘As Overheard’ thread. In 2009, both Hippolyta and Theseus appeared as part of the five year celebrations. Particularly notable was the post in which Hippolyta went hunting for provisions. The characters appeared again in posts in the Christmas series. In particular, Theseus supervised cutting and setting up the Christmas tree ("Ding, Dong, Merrily on High").
For more details please see the article about the ITOWverse
Relatively little of the fan fiction which has developed from Renault’s books has been based on the Theseus books. Nonetheless, some has been written, and while stories are not written in this universe every year, it nonetheless always is nominated for the Yuletide fanfiction exchange.
- "Dog Days of Summer" by innervoice_chan — Theseus and Companions play truant
- "The Night is Mine" by trianne — Theseus about life in the Bull Courts
- "He Will Forget, And Only I Will Remember" by Grond — The events in Crete, Naxos and Delos from The King Must Die, as experienced by Hippon.
- "My Lady Moon" by knityrowndalek — Naxos from Ariadne’s viewpoint.
- "Burgeoning Summer" by fawatson — Hippolyta’s pregnancy (PG13)
- "Fearless Golden" by rubynye (gift for fawatson in Yuletide 2008) — Chryse and Hippolyta: their friendship now was like flexing long-disused wings
- "Adventure" by Trianne — Pirithoos has a proposition for Theseus.
- "Destiny's Journey" by fawatson — Aigeus and Aithra conceive Theseus (PG13)
- "Sacrifice"  by fawatson (maryrenaultfic friends-locked) — The Corinthian prepares for his final bulldance
- "Dance" by fawatson — The Cranes dance in the Bull Courts
- "Triptych," by toujours_nigel— Ariadne as a child growing up in Crete
- Wine Dark Nexus by Anne Carr is a Professionals AU where Doyle (Damon) and Bodie (Brianhet) are sold into slavery and made bulldancers in Crete. The story was published in issue #2 of In the Public Interest in 1988.