Eteocles, Polynices, and Creon

in The Commerce of War

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780226111872
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226111902 | DOI:
Eteocles, Polynices, and Creon

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This chapter describes the three major characters in Thebaid—Eteocles, Polynices, and Creon—the first two of whom are primarily concerned with securing a power they do not yet possess. They differ fundamentally in their approaches to exchange and consumption in ways that make Eteocles more morally culpable for the devastation of the war. Statius gives Eteocles features of the typical tyrant, including violence, cruelty, and arrogance, but is particularly interested in exploring the homology between physical appetites and the pursuit of power. Unlike Eteocles, Polynices shows a certain self-awareness and so considerably displays more concern for those around him. With the warring brothers dead, Creon bows to the Theban throne, whereupon he is immediately transformed and begins governing ruthlessly. The powerful representatives of the line of divine and Theban kingship, Jupiter, Eteocles, and Creon, act on similar desires, but in a mercantile fashion that further vitiates their goals.

Keywords: Thebaid; Eteocles; Polynices; Creon; Statius; violence; divine; Theban kingship

Chapter.  12810 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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