Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Royal House of Thebes


									Royal House of Thebes

• Phoenician
  – Who else was Phoenician? *Hint: Carthage*
• Phoenician
  – Who else was a Phoenician?
     • Dido
• Seduced by Zeus, who was in the form of a
  white bull
Titian (1562 AD)
Rembrandt (1632)
Frescoe in Pompeii (covered in 79
Teracotta figurine from Athens, ca. 480
• Phoenician
  – Who else was a Phoenician?
     • Dido
• Seduced by Zeus, who was in the form of a white
• Her brothers ordered not to return until they
  found her
  – Cadmus, Cilix, Phoenix
• Hopeless quest, she never could be found
  because she was on Crete!
               Europa on Crete
• Europa landed on Crete and gave birth to
  Zeus’ children
  – Minos, Sarpedon, Rhadamanthys
     • Sarpedon founded the kingdom Lycia (not the Sarpedon
       who fought in the Trojan War)
     • Minos  Minoans, ancient civilization on Crete
     • Minos = Pasiphea, Pasiphea  Minotaur whom
       Theseus killed
     • Minos and Rhadamanthys become 2 of the 3 judges in
       the underworld
        – 3rd was Aeacus
• Civilization named by Sir Arthur Evans in 1900
• Google it, really interesting, but essential info
  – Minoans as early as 2600, lasted until 1150 BC
  – Significant trade routes – had contact with Egypt
    and Asia
  – Height of the Minoans – 1900-1400 BC
     • Even the lower class people had houses modeled on
       the palaces
  – Weakened by an earthquake or a volcano disaster
  – Eventually taken over and absorbed into
    “Hellenic” Culture
Palace of Knossos today
Minoan Palace
Fresco, ca. 1400 BC
Ladies in Blue Fresco
• Consulted oracle at Delphi
• Told to follow a cow until it lay down
  – Yes, lay is the past tense of lie, an intransitive verb
• Where it lay down, he was to found a city
  – Thebes!! Eventually, for now Cadmeia
• Consulted oracle at Delphi
• Told to follow a cow until it lies down
• Where it lay down, he was to found a city
   – Thebes!! Eventually, for now Cadmeia
• Men killed by dragon, Cadmus killed Dragon, Athena
   •   Dragon teeth  Spartoi!
   •   Cadmus threw a stone in the middle of them
   •   Spartoi thought one of them had attacked
   •   Fought until only 5 left – helped build Thebes
• Ares mad because Cadmus killed sacred Dragon
Cadmus fighting the dragon. Side A of a
black-figured amphora from Euboea, ca.
              560–550 BC
• Married Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite
• Wedding gift from Aphrodite/Hephaestus – necklace of
  Harmonia, made by Hephaestus
   – Why is this weird?
   – Cursed to bring disaster to any who wore it BUT also gives the
     wearer everlasting youth and beauty
   – Later used as a bribe to start a war against Thebes (more on that
• Cadmus and Harmonia – four daughters, one son
   – Ino, Semele, Autonoe, Agave
   – Polydorus
• Cadmus and Harmonia turned into serpents
• All the children ill-fated
   Semele -
Opera by Handel
• Semele catches Zeus’ eye
• She gets pregnant
• Hera (in disguise) convinces her to ask Zeus to
  see him in all his true glory, or his real godly
• Zeus promises her by the river Styx anything
  she asks of him before she asks her question
  (rash boon)
• Semele vaporized
• Zeus rescues Dionysus (Twice Born)
  – Sews him into his thigh
  – Raised first by Aunt Ino and her husband Athamas
  – Then by nymphs
Birth of Dionysus, Italian Vase, ca.
            405-385 BC
• Married Athamas
  – Athamas married to Nephele, but he got tired of
    her, so he married Ino
• Athamas sent messengers to Delphi to ask
  why famine
  – Ino intercepted the messengers on the way back,
    lied to Athamas, said Oracle commanded the
    sacrifice of Phrixus, son by Nephele
     • This way, one of her sons would be the king instead
             Helle and Phrixus
• Athamas was about to sacrifice Phrixus when
  a golden ram appeared
• Golden ram took Phrixus and sister Helle on
  its back and flew away
• Helle fell off Hellespont
• Phrixus ended up in Colchis, across the Black
  – Sacrificed the Ram to Zeus to show appreciation
  – Gave the Golden Fleece to Aeetes, king of Aea
     • Jason and the Argonauts
Mirror, From a tomb at Vetralla,
         Imperial period
 Mosaic in Naples (?)
site was in German . . .
                Back to Ino
• Athamas first wife, Nephele complained to
  Hera about Athamas taking a second wife
• OR
• Ino helped raise Dionysus, making the Jealous
  Hera furious
• Two versions of the results
              First Ino version
• Hera drove Athamas mad
  – Athamas killed one son (Learchus) with an arrow
    and then came after the other son (Melicertes)
  – Ino grabbed M, ran until they came to a cliff and
    jumped into the water below
  – She drowned, but because she helped raise
    Dionysus, Zeus turned her into a sea diety
    (Leucotha) and her son into a sea diety
John Flaxmann (1755-1826)
  “The Fury of Athamas”
           Second Ino Version
• Athamas and Ino both went mad
  – Athamas kills L.
  – Ino boils M. in a cauldron and jumps into the river
    holding the cauldron in her arms

• No matter what version, the boys and the
  mother die
• Athamas fled from Boetia (area around
• Mother of Actaeon
• Actaeon
  – Out hunting
  – Stumbled upon Artemis while she was bathing
  – Maiden Goddess upset he saw her naked in her
    secret bathing place
• Mother of Actaeon
• Actaeon
  – Out hunting
  – Stumbled upon Artemis while she was bathing
  – Maiden Goddess upset he saw her naked in her
    secret bathing place
  – Turned him into a stag
  – Set his own dogs loose on him
The Fountain of Diana and Actaeon (sculptures by Paolo Persico,
 Brunelli, Pietro Solari) – at the Palace of Caserta near Naples,
                            18th century
• Married to one of the Spartoi (Serpent teeth
  man), had son Pentheus
• Pentheus
  – Refused to accept cousin Dionysus as a god and
    did not allow him to have his center of worship in
• Agave was a Maenad – female follower of
  – Mistook Pentheus for a wild animal in the forest
    (Dionysus made them all crazy)
  – Ripped him to pieces
Pottery, ca. 480 BC
Fresco in Pompeii
          Amphion and Zethus
• Twin sons of Zeus and Antiope
  – Zeus seduced her in the form of a satyr
• Antiope’s Uncle Lycus – regent of Thebes (first
  to Labdacus, then to Labdacus’ son, Laius)
• Lycus ordered his great nephews to be
  – They were discovered and raised by a cowherd
• Gave Antiope to wife, Dirce, who treated her
  very cruelly
           Amphion and Zethus
• Mom Antiope escaped wicked Aunt Dirce and
  found her two sons
• Amphion and Zethus returned to Thebes
  – Killed Dirce
     • Had her tied to the horns of a bull
  – Forced Lycus out of Thebes (or they killed him)
     • King Laius was spirited away
  – Became co-rulers
• City finally named “Thebes” after Zethus’ wife,
Fresco in the house of Vetii in
           Amphion and Zethus
• Built the walls of Thebes with 7 gates
  – Zethus very strong – he carried the rocks
  – Amphion very talented musician – got the rocks to
    follow him as he played his lyre
• Amphion married Niobe
  – Had 7 daughters and 7 sons,
     • Niobe boasted she was a better than Leto, the mother
       of Apollo and Artemis, because she had more children
     • Apollo and Artemis killed all or most of the children
Jacque Louis David – 1772 -
Hellenistic Statue – in the Uffizi
Niobe being turned to stone –
    vase, 4th century B.C.
• Amphion and Zethus died of old age, Laius
  returned and became king of Thebes
• Laius married Jocasta
• Prophecy that Laius’ son would kill him and
  have children with his own mother, Jocasta
• Laius ordered newborn son to be exposed
• Infant discovered by a shepherd OR shepherd
  didn’t have heart to leave the child to die
  – Shepherd gave child to Queen of Corinth, wife of
    Polybus, who raised child as their own
  – Oedipus = swollen foot
• Learned from Delphi prophecy that he would
  kill his father and marry his mother
• Thought Polybus, king of Corinth, was his
  father, so he left to avoid the prophecy
• Oedipus met an old man in the road
  – Old man attacked Oedipus
  – Oedipus killed the old man and all but one of his 5
        Oedipus and the Sphinx
• Sphinx had been killing travelers who couldn’t
  answer her riddle
  – What walks on 4 legs in the morning, 2 legs in the
    afternoon, and 3 legs at night?
• Oedipus answered correctly: Man
  – because as infant would crawl on it hands and feet
    (4); in most of his life, he would walk on two legs;
    but when he was old, he would have to rely on a
    walking stick (3)
• The Sphinx drowned herself
Amphora, 450-440 B.C.
• Creon married Oedipus to Jocasta and gave
  him the kingship as a reward
  – Oedipus had just unknowingly married his mother
• Oedipus ruled happily with Jocasta until their
  sons were grown
  – Had 4 kids – Polyneices, Eteocles, Ismene,
• Then Thebes was struck with a plague that led
  to a famine . . . Things were bad
• Sends Creon to Delphi
  – Oracle said murderer of Laius must be punished
• Teiresias
  – Blind prophet
  – Reveals that Oedipus had killed Laius
• Oedipus refuses to believe and investigates
• Messenger comes to Thebes to announce that
  Polybus, king of Corinth, has died
  – Oedipus believes he has beaten the prophecy
  – Messenger reveals Oedipus was adopted!
• Jocasta puts together the truth and slips away
• Oedipus learns from the old shepherd that
  Laius was his father and Jocasta his mother
• Oedipus goes to find his mother/wife
• Finds she has committed suicide
  – She stabbed herself
• Oedipus puts out his own eyes
  – Doesn’t want to see the shame in his new world
• Oedipus goes into exile
  – His daughter Antigone went with him
  – Both daughters present when he died (antigone
    and Ismene)
         Seven Against Thebes
• While Oedipus was in exile, sons Eteocles and
  Polyneices were to alternate years as rulers
• However, Eteocles refused to give up the
  throne when Polyneices returned to Thebes
  for his turn and banished his brother from
• Polyneices went to Argos to appeal to king
  Adrastus for help
         Seven Against Thebes
• Adrastus married Polynices and Tydeus to his
  daughters and promised to restore them to
  their kingdomes
  – Tydeus had been exiled from his own kingdom as
• Amphiaraus
  – One of the argonauts
  – Married to Adrastus’ sister, Eriphyle
  – As a seer, knew the war against Thebes would fail
  – Did not want to go to war with Adrastus
         Seven Against Thebes
• Amphiaraus and Adrastus
  – Had an arrangement that any disagreement would
    be settled by Adrastus’ sister and Amphiaraus’
    wife, Eriphyle
  – Polyneices bribed Eriphyle with the Necklace of
    Harmonia, starting the war of the Seven Against
         Seven Against Thebes
• Adrastus
  – only survivor of the Argives
• Amphiaraus
  – earth swallowed him alive because Zeus felt bad
    for his favorite seer
• Capaneus
  – first to reach the top of the walls,
  – boasted not even Zeus could stop him,
  – struck down with lightning
Capaneus scales the city walls to overthrow King
 Creon who looks down from the battlements.
Campanian red-figure neck-amphora, ca. 340 BC
         Seven Against Thebes
• Hippomedon
  – father of Polydorus
• Parthenopaeus
  – son of Hippomenes and Atalanta
• Polynices
  – killed by his brother, whom he also killed
  – Not always considered one of the Seven
• Tydeus
  – Fatally wounded
  – Athena about to save him, but he ate his enemy’s
    (Melanippus) brains, so she let him die
         Seven Against Thebes
• In order for Thebes to be successful, Creon’s
  son Menoeceus had to die in battle
  – He snuck out to join the war
  – Thebes won
• Because both brothers were dead, Creon
  became ruler of Thebes
• Adrastus escaped to Athens
  – More on that later
• Theseus had made sure that Antigone and
  Ismene made it home to Thebes safely
• Waited in Thebes during the war to see which
  brother would win
• Neither won, both died, so Creon became
• Polyneices and the others who died fighting
  against Thebes were to be left as bird food by
  decree of Creon
  – Anyone who defied his ruling would be punished
    with death
• Ismene refused to go against Creon’s orders
• Antigone snuck out and performed burial rites
  for Polyneices
• Antigone got caught by the guards
  – Ismene tried to share the blame, but Antigone
    wouldn’t let her
• Creon punishes Antigone by entombing her in
  a cave
  Antigone in front of the dead
Polynices – Nikoforos Lytras - 1865
Antigone at her Brother's Grave
  Red Figure, 4th century BC
    Musáe du Louvre, Paris
• Her fiance, Creon’s son Haemon, went to
  rescue her, but she had already hung herself
• Creon also came to let her out, Haemon tried
  to kill him, failed and then killed himself in
  front of his father
• Creon’s wife, Eurydice, killed herself out of
  grief of losing all 3 of her children
• Creon’s pride killed his niece and destroyed his
  own family
             Back to Adrastus
• The remaining generals still were not buried
• Adrastus appealed to Theseus
• Theseus at first refused to help
  – His mother reasoned with him
• Theseus agreed
  – Marched on Thebes
  – Defeated Thebes
  – Did not sack the city, simply demanded the dead
    receive their proper burials
• The sons were not happy that the Thebans
  were not being punished for the dishonor to
  their fathers
  – They swore vengeance on the Thebans by some
    day conquering Thebes
• Epigoni – Greek for after born
• Attacked Thebes 10 years after their fathers’
• Aegialeus, son of Adrastus - irony-the only one
  to die, son of the only one to have survived
  the first siege.
• Thersandros, son of Polynices
• Alcmaeon, son of Amphiareus
• Diomedes, son of Tydeus
• Polydorus, son of Hippomedon
• Sthenelos, son of Capaneus
• Promachus, son of Parthenopaeus
• Aegialeus died
  – Adrastus died of grief, fulfilling a prophecy that
    until all the Seven Against Thebes were dead, the
    Epigoni could not win
• The Epigoni conquered Thebes
  – Most of the Thebans fled to Ilyria
• Thersander, son of Polyneices, became the
  king of Thebes
The End

To top