Gather ’round, children, and let me tell you about the time Theseus and Pirithous came up with Greek mythology’s worst idea.
So, most of us know who Theseus is. Slew the Minotaur, founded Athens, all that jazz. Fewer people know about Pirithous, Theseus’s BFF and king of the Lepiths. And the son of a mortal woman and either Ixion or Zeus, depending on who you ask.
One day, the two are having some bro time, and discuss how both of their wives have recently died. Seeing as how they are, once again, now single and ready to mingle, their discussion then turns to obtaining themselves some new brides. Not just any woman will do for these great heroes, however.
Nope, they want to go and bag themselves a couple daughters of Zeus. Which, if you go with the “Zeus is Pirithous’s dad” version of his backstory, means he wants to marry one of his half-sisters. Which, ew, but for gods/demigods that kind of thing is considered OK.
They then get to figuring out how to kidnap themselves some wives, which was the style at the time.
So first up is Theseus. He decides to actually aim pretty high, and winds up kidnapping Helen not-quite-yet of Troy. Who he then delivers to his mom until she’s old enough to marry. Because at this point in Greek mythology, Helen is all of 13 years old. So that’s a thing.
Pirithous, however, decides he wants to aim a little bit higher. He doesn’t want a demigod, he wants to kidnap a full-on goddess. And which goddess has he decided he wants to take? Why, none other then Persephone, of course.
Spoiler alert: this turns out to be a really, really bad idea.
See, while Hades originally kidnapped Persephone, in most versions it’s kind of hinted that the two are actually very, very deeply in love with each other. Which is probably because Hades doesn’t have Zeus or Poseidon’s wandering dick. So yeah, Hades is the original wife guy. He is super, super devoted to Persephone.
And, of course, he gets wind of Pirithous and Theseus’s little plot, and is none too happy about it.
So Theseus and Pirithous head on down to the underworld and are greeted by Hades, who outwardly seems pretty calm, but is actually pretty pissed off. He goes to the two and invites them over for dinner.
The two sit down at the table, at which point their chairs promptly sprout snakes that bind them to said chairs, which is where they get to spend all eternity. Well, Pirithous does at least. At some later time, Heracles takes a trip to the underworld where he encounters these two. He saves Theseus, but an earthquake happens when he tries to free Pirithous. Heracles, wisely, takes this as a sign that maaaaaaaaaaaybe he should leave that one be.
And here we learn that pissing of Hades is generally a very, very bad idea.