Seven against Thebes

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Myth, and play by Aeschylus. Oedipus' curse upon his sons Eteocles (‘True Glory’) and Polynices (‘Much Strife’) results in their dispute over the throne of Thebes and in Polynices calling upon his father‐in‐law Adrastus, king of Argos, and five other heroes. These seven heroes fight at, and match, the mythical seven gates of Thebes. In particular, Zeus strikes Capaneus with a lightning‐bolt, the two brothers slaughter each other, Amphiaraus (who joins the expedition through the treachery of his wife Eriphyle) is swallowed up by the earth, and Tydeus is denied immortality when Athena finds him devouring the brains of Melanippus.

Aeschylus' Seven against Thebes was the last play of his Theban trilogy (467 bc), following Laius and Oedipus. It focuses on Eteocles' acceptance of the task of fighting his own brother and the impact of their deaths on the family—a catastrophic end to the House of Laius. It was an esteemed play, whose text appears to have been rehandled, esp. to allow a final view of Antigone in the light of Sophocles' Antigone. See also epigoni.

Subjects: Classical Studies — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

Aeschylus (525—456 bc) Greek dramatist