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Menestheus ( Μενεσθέας ), the son of Peteus, son of Orneus, son of Erechtheus, was a legendary King of Athens during the Trojan War. He was set up as king by the Dioscuri when Theseus travelled to the underworld, and when Theseus returned Menestheus exiled him from Athens. He was one of the suitors of Helen, and when the war started he brought "fifty black ships" to Troy. In the Iliad he was characterized as not valiant. When Agamemnon was reviewing his troops he found Menestheus in the back rows seemingly avoiding action, later when Sarpedon attacked the portion of the Greek wall that he was in charge of Homer stated that Menestheus shivered and had to call on Telamonian Aias and Teucer for aid. He was one of the warriors in the Trojan Horse. After Troy was sacked, he sailed to Mimas, then to Melos where he became king. When he died, Athens passed back to the family of Theseus.

Soldiers came from that well-built fortress Athens,     
land of proud Erechtheus, whom Athena raised,
after he was born out of the harvest land.
She placed him at her own rich shrine in Athens.
To him Athenian youth make sacrificial offerings,  
with bulls and rams as each year comes around.   
Menestheus, son of Peteos, led these men.

Homer Iliad. ii.



King of Athens

Preceded by: Theseus

Succeeded by: Demophon


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