Theseus receives Minos’ ring from Amphitrite

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Theseus receives Minos’ ring from Amphitrite
In this tapestry, the fifth in the series, Theseus, standing and wearing a breastplate and helmet and armed with a mace, receives a ring from Amphitrite, the wife of the god Poseidon. Amphitrite, naked, is reclining and accompanied by a nymph; on the other side of the tapestry, the sirens, mounted on dolphins, can be seen in the sea. Sea monsters appear in the lower border while two solomonic columns adorn the side edges.

Theseus volunteers to be devoured by the Minotaur

According to the traditional myth, the oracle told the Athenians that seven boys and seven maidens must be sent to Crete, every year for nine years, to appease King Minos. There, they would be devoured by the Minotaur. When Minos came to Athens in the third year, Theseus convinced his father King Aegeus to let him offer himself as a sacrifice. During the crossing, Theseus confronted Minos, who, as a son of Zeus, made the ship capsize with thunder and lightning.

A ring thrown into the sea

Theseus, meanwhile, declared himself son of Poseidon. Minos demanded that Theseus prove his claim, and threw his ring into the water to see if Theseus could find it. Theseus dived in, and dolphins led him to Amphitrite, who handed him the ring of the Cretan king.

A sensual scene

The central image of this scene is Amphitrite handing the ring to Theseus. It is a particularly sensual scene, remarkable for its accomplished warm tones. There are also sirens and dolphins in the sea, and, in the background, we see how Theseus, mounted on the back of a dolphin, reached Poseidon´s wife.

Series Story of Theseus

Fifth tapestry in the series

Model Anthonis Sallaert

Manufacture Jan Raes the Younger, Brussels, c. 1630

Fabric Silk and wool

Size 392 x 376 cm

Location Royal Palace of El Pardo

Origin Collection of Philip IV

On display Upper Gallery, Patio de las Austrias


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