17_2 Thebes

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					Chapter Seventeen
  Lecture Two
 Oedipus and Thebes
Heroic Sufferer for Truth or
    Victim of Curiosity
          Sufferer or Victim
• Oedipus not like other “cosmic” heroes
  – Not of divine birth
  – He overthrows his father but creates not order
    but chaos
• In Homer’s version, Oedipus continues as
  king after truth is discovered
• In Sophocles’s, he blinds himself and
  eventually is exiled
          Sufferer or Victim
• The discovery combines the anagnorisis
  and the peripateia
• Was he just a toy of fate?
• For the Greeks, he had no moral fault and
  did what any intelligent person would have
  done in the same situation
• He is confused about his true self,
  between what he appears to be and what
  he is
           Sufferer or Victim
• He dies as the pharmakos for the city,
  outcast
• His intelligence is restless and he solves
  riddles, including his own
  – Typically for the Greeks, the truth is an awful
    one
The Seven Against Thebes
   The Seven Against Thebes
• Eteocles and Polynices rule in alternate
  years
• Eteocles reneges
• Polynices goes into exile
• Adrastus (Argos)
  – Daughters must be yoked to a boar and a lion
  – Polynices and Tydeus
   The Seven Against Thebes
• Adrastus will restore the two to their
  kingdoms
  – First Thebes, then Calydon
• Great leaders are summoned
  – Amphiaraüs (a prophet who knew that all but
    Adrastus would die on the campaign)
  – Eriphylê (sister of Adrastus and wife of
    Amphiaraüs) is bribed to decide on behalf of
    the campaign
     The Seven Against Thebes
•   Amphiaraüs makes his sons swear to avenge
    his death
•   The seven heroes
    1.   Adrastus
    2.   Amphiaraüs
    3.   Capaneus
    4.   Hippomedon
    5.   Polynices
    6.   Tydeus
    7.   Parthenopeus
Oedipus at Colonus

     Sophocles
        Oedipus at Colonus
• Oedipus, now in exile, arrives in Athens as
  the Grove of the Furies with his daughter
  Antigonê
• Delphi: wherever Oedipus is buried that
  city will never be captured
• Eteocles and Polynices both want him
  back
• Theseus (king of Athens) refuses to give
  him back
        Oedipus at Colonus
• Oedipus curses both his sons and goes off
  to disappear mysteriously
Tydeus at Thebes
          Tydeus at Thebes
• Tydeus goes into Thebes to persuade
  Eteocles to step down
• Pins all their champions in wrestling
• Killed all but one of fifty Thebans who
  ambushed him
• Folktale qualities
  – mysterious, powerful stranger, all but one . . .
The Battle Before Thebes

         Aeschylus
    Seven Against Thebes
    The Battle Before Thebes
• Seven Theban heroes each defend one of
  the seven gates of Thebes, drawing lots
  for which gate would be his
  – Menoeceus kills himself to fulfill the condition
    for the safety of Thebes
• Capaneus is killed by Zeus for an impious
  boast
    The Battle Before Thebes
• Amphiaraüs savagely prevents Tydeus
  from becoming immortal by giving his skull
  to Melanippus who eats the brains
• Amphiaraüs himself is protected from
  being hit in the back by a spear by Zeus
  – He’s swallowed alive into the ground
    The Battle Before Thebes
• Eteocles finds himself paired with
  Polynices
• They kill each other with a mutual blow
• Thebes is spared
• Only Adrastus escapes
  – In a chariot drawn by Arion (< Poseidon +
    Demeter)
Sophocles’ Antigonê
        Sophocles’ Antigonê
• Creon (now ruling at Thebes) forbids the
  burial of Polynices
• Antigonê defies the order
• She is condemned to be shut in a cave
  and left to die
• Creon’s son Haemon (who’s engaged to
  Antigonê) tries to intervene, but Creon will
  not listen
        Sophocles’ Antigonê
• Creon finally listens to the prophet
  Tiresias, but it is too late:
  – Antigonê hanged herself in the cave
  – Haemon tries to kill Creon, but fails. Then he
    kills himself
Revenge of the Parthenos
    Revenge of the Parthenos
• The play is a circle of opposites
  – male | female
  – young | old
  – state | family
  – the living | the dead
  – humans | gods
    Revenge of the Parthenos
• Politically Antigonê is the conservative and
  Creon is the progressive
• Philosophically Creon advocates nomos
  and Antigonê physis
• As to gender roles, Antigonê is the
  untamed parthenos which no civic power
  can stop
The Epigoni
              The Epigoni
• Ten years later, the “descendents” of the
  original seven attack Thebes again
• Eriphylê bribed again, this time by the robe
  of Harmonia
• Orders her son, Alcmaeon to lead an
  expedition against Thebes.
• Thebans abandon their city and it is
  sacked
               The Epigoni
• Now Alcmaeon, son of Eriphylê and
  Amphiaraüs, avenges his father’s death by
  killing his mother
  – As he was ordered to do by his father before
    the Seven Against Thebes expedition
• He is driven insane for the matricide and
  later killed
End

				
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