Theseus, king of Athens, was the great Attic hero who was the opposite number of Heracles, the Dorian hero. He was the son of either Aegeus or Poseidon and Pittheus' daughter Aethra.

His name can be interpreted on a general level as 'orderer', 'regulator', on a more specific basis as 'settler', 'civiliser', or with a purely local and incidental reference, as 'putter', 'depositor'. All of these senses derive from tithemi, 'to put', 'place', 'set', 'determine', 'deposit' and the like - the verb has at least ten basic meanings.

The first two of these interpretations, the general and the specific, are self-explanatory, especially in view of the hero's method of dealing with evil or unscrupulous persons (he was a great slayer of villains, among them Sinis, Procrustes and, most famous of all, the Minotaur). The third interpretation, the incidental one, refers to the sword and sandals of Aegeus that were 'deposited' or simply 'put' for him under a boulder as tokens.

True, in this case it was Aegeus who was the putter or depositor, but it could be argued that he was doing so symbolically and prophetically, since the sword would be used by Theseus for civilising and settling, and the sandals for travelling and adventuring in order to bring order and stability.

For Theseus all is theme and thesis, putting and settling, and of all mythological characters his name is unique in exploiting to the full the many meanings of a single highly significant verb. (Among other characters whose names also derive from tithemi see Themis and Thetis.)