Seven Against Thebes(by Aeschylus 467 BC) Prepared by Dr. Arlene Salve Opina
Aeschylus “Father of Tragedy” Aeschylus was born in 524 or 525 BC in the city of Eleusis. In his plays, he addresses complex theological problems
Aeschylus Legend has it that Aeschylus met his death when a Gypaetusbarbatus mistook his bald head for a rock and dropped a tortoise on it. He dies in Gela (c. 456 BC) in one of his trips to Sicily and a monument is build there in his memory. Aeschylus had two sons, Euaion and Euphorion.
The third play in an Oedipus-themed trilogy It concerns the battle between an Argive army led by Polynices and the Theban army led by Eteocles and his supporters. The trilogy won the first prize at the City Dionysia.
The Seven Argive warriors Eteoclus- attacked the Neistan gates. Amphiaraus– seer, killed Melanippus, swallowed with chariot in the ground. Capaneus– outstanding warrior but arrogant, cursed by Zeus. Hippomedon- very large and powerful. attacked the gate of Athena Onca, but is killed by Ismarus. Parthenopeus– Killed by Periclymenus, Amphidicus, or Asphodicus. Polynices– Brother of Etheocles Tydeus- The goddess Athena had planned to make him immortal but refused after Tydeus in a rage devoured the brains of the defeated Melanippus. He was the father of the Greek warrior Diomedes.
The Defenders of Thebes Creon– Brother –in-law of Oedipus Megareus- committed suicide to save Thebes Poriclymenus- son of Poseidon and Chloris and would-be murderer of Amphiaraus Melanippus- defended the Proitid gate and whose brains were eaten by Tydeus. Polyphontes- Faced Capaneus at the Electran gates Hyperbius Actor- defenders of the Borraean Gate at Thebes Lasthenes
Summary The drama has very little plot. The bulk of the play describes each of the seven captains that lead the Argive army against Thebes, as well as the devices on their respective shields. When Oedipus stepped down as King of Thebes, he gave the kingdom to his two sons, Eteocles and Polynices, who agreed to rule Thebes in alternate years. After the first year, Eteocles refuses to step down, As a result, Polynices has raised an army (captained by the Eponymous Seven) to take Thebes by force.
Eteocles, in turn, announces that he will send against each Argive attacker. When Polynices is revealed to be the last of the seven captains, Eteoclesresolves to meet his brother in single combat, citing Oedipus' curse that he and Polynices would divide their kingdom with iron,and exits. Following a choral ode, a messenger enters, announcing that Eteocles and Polynices have killed each other in battle. Their bodies are brought on stage, and the chorus mourns them.