Tommy isn’t Theseus. Every time I see Techno’s analogy about Tommy being Theseus brought up I’m filled with endless rage and I’ve DECIDED!
That it’s about time I explained just why it’s so objectively incorrect.
First: a bit of backstory on Theseus, because I doubt many of you actually know much about him beyond what Techno said in his “so you want to be a hero” speech, which left out a lot of relevant details.
Theseus was a demigod with two fathers and one mother. His fathers were king Aegeus of Athens and the sea god Poseidon, and his mother was Aethra, Aegeus’ wife. Aethra raised Theseus on her own, far from Athens to avoid him being assassinated.
Aegeus left him nothing but a sword with the Athenian crest and a pair of sandals, buried under a rock so no one else could get them.
When Theseus came of age, he took the sword and sandals and headed up to Athens, slaying various monsters along the way. (It pains me to abbreviate it that much, but Techno left out everything before the Minotaur so it won’t help me much in debunking his analogy.)
Once he got to Athens, he met up with his dad, chased out his stepmom Medea, (yes, that Medea) and killed some people. Then comes the relevant part.
Crete had won a war against Athens a while back, and because of this, every seven years Athens was forced to send 14 tributes to be killed by the Minotaur. (Yes, this inspired the Hunger Games)
Theseus decided he’d volunteer and kill the Minotaur, thus ending the tribute system for good and getting one over on Athens. He promised his dad that if he won, he’d come back in a ship with white sails, as opposed to the standard mourning black that signified the death of the tributes.
So he went to Crete, met king Minos and his daughters Ariadne and Phaedra, and got sent into the labyrinth. Ariadne gave him a magic ball of string that kept him from getting lost, allowing him to find the Minotaur and then safely get out afterwards, providing he could kill it.
He killed it, led his other 13 tributes out, and sailed back home. On the way, Athena told him to leave Ariadne stranded on a tiny island in the middle of the ocean, so he immediately did so, because Theseus was an asshole.
He got home, his dad committed suicide because Theseus forgot the white sails and his dad assumed he’d died, Theseus became king and married Phaedra, and then the fun began, because again, Theseus was an asshole.
First, he cheated on Phaedra with Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, so she left and took the kids. Next, he and his other asshole friend Pirithous decided to kidnap themselves some new wives. Theseus decided on Helen of Troy, who was a child at the time, and Pirithous decided on Persephone, which resulted in both him and Theseus getting stuck in the Underworld for a while due to pissing off Hades.
Once he got back up, he killed his son for fucking his wife, which is messed up on many levels, and then left Athens because his people were rightfully not super okay with that.
Then he goes and meets Lycomedes, who throws him off a cliff.
Next, let’s talk about Techno’s speech a bit.
He starts off by accusing Tommy of being a power hungry dictator (paraphrased), before asking him if he wants to be a hero.
Then, he provides what is apparently the archetypal example of heroism, something often associated with selflessness, kindness, and generally giving at least one singular solitary fuck about other people.
Theseus! Heroic hero who does heroic things, like, uhhh *checks notes* cheating on his wife, kidnapping children with plans to forcefully marry them, leaving people alone on tiny islands with no supplies, killing his kid, etc. etc...
So we’re off to a great start.
Then, he gives a short summary of Theseus’ life and times! He skips the first part of his life completely, which is hilarious to me because it’s the only time Theseus ever did anything actually heroic or selfless, and gets straight to the meat!
“Let me tell you a story, Tommy. A story of a man called Theseus. His country was in danger, he sent himself forward! Into enemy lines. He slayed the Minotaur! And saved his city. You know what they did to him, Tommy? They exiled him. He died in disgrace, despised by his people. That’s what happens to heroes, Tommy.”
So first off, he doesn’t mention... really anything other than the Minotaur and the exile, which is leaving out a lot of relevant details, like why Theseus was exiled. (You know, killing his son in cold blood?)
Second, he doesn’t give details in general. Not that he should’ve given a full telling, or anything, but I’m always surprised by the shortness of this speech when I go back and listen to it. He pretty much just gives the barest bones of an argument and expects his audience to take it at face value. (Which they do, but it’s still bad practice)
From the more accurate (if still brief) summary if Theseus’ life I’ve just given, I’m sure you can see why this might be more than a bit dubious, as an analogy. Given cc!Technoblade is literally an English major, and doubtless knows significantly more about the myth than I do, I’d imagine this was never intended to be taken at face value.
Over and over again, c!Techno proves himself to be an unreliable narrator, and over and over again, the fandom at large takes his word as gospel.
Now, as far as a more in depth argument for Tommy as Theseus goes, I will attempt to debunk that as well, because there are some genuinely good points to be made.
First of all, most people make Dream out to be the Minotaur. Given the time this speech was made, I imagine Schlatt was the intended target of that, but with latter events in mind, Dream does make much more sense.
I’d say this is honestly pretty fair, but I don’t think Tommy takes the role of Theseus in that narrative. I’d argue he’s much more analogous to the role of Ariadne, giving the tools required to defeat Dream but ultimately not doing so through his own power, but because someone chose to take those tools and make use of them. This also provides the very interesting characterization of Punz as Theseus, which is an incredibly unique take that I hope some a Punz enthusiast does something with, because I don’t know enough about his lore to make a good analysis on that.
The idea of Schlatt as the Minotaur, as was probably intended by Techno at the time, makes much more sense, though I still think other characters fit the role better. Firstly, Schlatt wasn’t killed, he died of a heart attack, and if someone had killed him I think it’s more likely to have been Wilbur or Techno who did it than Tommy, as Tommy was still very hopeful and idealistic at the time, at least compared to his character now. You could posit Tommy as Ariadne again in this situation, given he was the one to mastermind the final charge, and though I think Tommy as Ariadne is an idea that’s worth further exploration, I’d say Fundy futs the Ariadne role here much better, with him giving the spy’s diary before being effectively shunned and left out in the cold by both Pogtopia and Manburg, much like Ariadne was abandoned in the original myth.
I’d posit the Theseus in this scenario as Techno, Wilbur, or possibly Philza, as they were the ones to actually kill things in the 16th, though Techno and Wilbur’s killings were more in the metaphorical sense, taking the second life of L’manburg.
As for the exile, Tommy exile was alike to that of Theseus only in concept. Both were sent from their kingdoms for a crime, resulting in a falling out with someone close to them, and had a precarious relationship with heights while they were gone, but that’s about where the similarities end and even then they’re superficial.
First of all, Tommy’s exile was far more because Dream was looking for an excuse to do it than because briefing actually means anything on the SMP, given how Dream had been griefing bases and blaming Tommy for it for a while before it went down. (Fun fact, Bad and Skeppy were going to burn one of his discs over this, but one of them got sick so they had to cancel the stream.)
Theseus’ exile, on the other hand, was entirely deserved, especially when you consider how serious a crime killing family was in Ancient Greek culture. It was pretty much the biggest no-no in existence, and I’m almost surprised he wasn’t just straight up executed for it.
Second, Tommy’s falling out with Tubbo was almost entirely due to outside forces, (Dream) rather than because anything Tommy had done. Though Tommy’s cavalierness towards the trial and attempts to threaten Dream with Spirit doubtless didn’t help things, Dream surrounding L’manburg in obsidian walls and threatening them to exile Tommy was entirely his own choice, and not something that can be pinned on Tommy, no matter what the apologists may say.
Meanwhile, Theseus’ falling out with Phaedra had begun long before his exile with him cheating on her. Him killing his son was merely the last in a long line of dominos to completely destroy their relationship.
Last, Tommy nearly killing himself is very different from Theseus being pushed off a cliff. Tommy’s near suicide was the direct result of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of c!Dream for what was canonically, I believe, several months? (Correct me if I’m wrong on that one.) Tommy almost jumping off a pillar because he was deliberately isolated from his support systems is nothing like Theseus being killed because he was a cocky asshole who thought he was god.
So that’s why I don’t think Tommy is anything like Theseus, and why I’m filled with endless rage by the completely uncritical acceptance of this parallel, but it’s not the whole reason it pisses me off.
It also pisses me off because, as stated earlier, cc!Techno is an English major. He knew what he was doing with this. The fandom’s insistence on refusing to acknowledge his character as an unreliable narrator is, in my opinion, acting as a massive kneecap to what could be a great analysis of how he thinks.
Specifically: why does c!Technoblade think Tommy is like Theseus?
Of all the Greek heroes to pick, why that one? Was it just the tantalizing opportunity to parallel Schlatt with a horned monster, or was it because c!Techno has some genuine in-character reason to think this myth specifically applies to Tommy.
Now, we all know people in the SMP have a habit of analogizing Wilbur and Tommy. The assumption Tommy wanted to be president, the belief that Tommy nominated Tubbo directly, the belief that he was intentionally deceiving Techno about Pogtopia’s intentions regarding Manburg... all of these stem from Wilbur. There are more cases of this, of course, but several analyses have been done in the subject already, and this is long enough without more padding.
So why does Techno think Tommy is Theseus? Well, it’s simple, isn’t it?
Wilbur is Theseus.
To be continued, because this is already too long and my brain hurts.
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