After the death of Oedipus, King of Thebes, his two sons, Eteocles and Polyneices, are in a bitter dispute over who will become the new ruler. The brothers come to an unusual arrangement: they will alternate ruling the state year by year. Eteocles is king first, but when it comes time to hand over control to Polyneices, he refuses to honor their agreement. Polyneices leads an army to the gates of Thebes and lays siege to the city, and faces his brother head on in battle. Fulfilling a prophecy laid down by their father, both men die at each others’ hands.
Aeschylus’ The Seven Against Thebes is a re-telling of one of the most popular legends of antiquity, making reference to a story that every member of a Greek audience would know instantly. As a result, much of the narrative is delivered through speeches and monologues, rather than by staging the dramatic action. The story of Eteocles, Polyneices, and their champions is deeply interconnected to many other famous Greek legends, including Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and The Phoenician Women.
The Seven Against Thebes guide sections