Seven Against Thebes

Definition

Theater

  • A tragedy by Aeschylus, first performed in 469 BCin Athens. One of the first plays to be dominated by the protagonistrather than by the chorus, it is the third and only surviving partof a tetralogy based on the legend of Oedipus, his father Laius, andhis sons. The first two dramas, Laius and Oedipus, showedhow Laius had disobeyed the oracle and fathered a son, bringing doomon his family and peril for their city.

    The play opens with a prologue explaining that Oedipus has beenexpelled from Thebes and that his sons, Polyneices and Eteocles, havequarrelled over the succession. The city is now besieged by an army from Argos that is determined to place Polyneices on the throne. Eteocles promisesthe chorus of fearful women that he will defend the city's seven gatesagainst seven champions of the enemy. Polyneices is the championat Eteocles's gate and the brothers meet in combat, fulfilling Oedipus'scurse that his sons shall divide their inheritance with the sword.At the end of the play a messenger announces that the brothers havekilled each other, but that Thebes has been saved.

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