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Summary Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας

Ices each by the others hand Long dismissed by critics as ritualistic and lacking in dramatic tension Seven Against Thebes is revealed by Hecht and Bacon as a work of great unity and drama one exceptionally rich in symbolism and image. 33 Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylustranslated from Ancient Greek by George Theodoridis 2010performed 467 bce format 50 page length webpage Jun 7 8rating starsA complex play than the Persians Still all the action happens off stage This was the third in a trilogy on Oedipus but the first two plays are lost The first Laius would have covered the story of Laius King of Thebes receiving the curse that this son would kill him He ordered Oedipus killed but Oedipus was saved and raised not knowing who his parents were He would later kill Laius and marry his mother The second play Oedipus would have covered Oedipus s discovery of his accidental crime after having four children He placed a curse on his sons Eteocles Polyneices saying they would kill each other In the legend the brother s agree to trade the kingship First Eteocles and then Polyneices But Eteocles refuses to step down so Polyneices gathers an army of heroes an attacks Thebes And that gets us hereWhat was most interesting to me is that Aeschylus uses a lot of humor in an otherwise formulaic tragedy As the attacks mount the woman inside Thebes panic and start bewailing to their gods dreading their treatment once conuered Eteocles tries to be respectful while pleading for sanity But there are lots of curiosities here The seven heroic attackers are all described with great attention given to their shields One Amphiaraus was a seer and foresaw his own death in the battle and carries an blank shield The ending of the play is not original It was reworked so that Antigone a daughter of Oedipus would remain consistent her character in a later play by Sophocles

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Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας

The formidable talents of Anthony Hecht one of the most gifted of contemporary American poets and Helen Bacon a classical scholar are here brought to bear on this vibrant translation of Aeschylus' much underrated tragedy The Seven Aga. When a curse arising from an ancient oracle Falls due the settlement is heavy3 12This is the second of seven plays by Aeschylus which have survived It was written around 467 BC It was probably not given this name when first performed in Athens The Athenians were sort of pissed off at Thebes at this time since a dozen years before it was produced Thebes had provided a force which fought on the side of the Persians at the Battle of Plataea In the play itself Thebes is not mentioned rather its called Cadmea after Cadmus the founder of ThebesThe play was originally written as the third part of a trilogy the first two being Laius and Oedipus the backstoryLaius was the great grandson of Cadmus When he was king of Thebes the Oracle of Delphi prophesied to him that if he had a male child the child would slay him and marry his wife Laius and his wife Jocasta did in fact have a son but they feared the prophesy and arranged that the babe should be left in the mountains to dieWell stuff happens The child did not die and grew up to be a man called Oedipus You may know the story Oedipus through a strange series of events did kill Laius not knowing who he was and eventually did marry Jocasta neither of them knowing what they were doing giving the world the term Oedipus complex Four children issued from them two sons Polyneices and Eteocles and two daughters Antigone and IsmeneEventually events transpire which leads to Oedipus and Jocasta learning their blood relationship Jocasta that her husband is her son that their children are her grandchildren you get the idea Oedipus blinds himself as contrition for the horrible crime he has unknowingly committed Jocasta kills herself There are different versions of what followed Some say Oedipus was banished or banished himself some say he lived on in the palace as his children grew up One way or another Oedipus became enraged at the sons at some point and cursed them to the effect that they would die at each other s hands It s here in the legend that Oedipus invokes the Erinyes to assure that the curse will be carried out See below for a comment on the ErinyesEventually Oedipus died in foreign lands still attended by Antigone When the sons reached the age of majority they argued about who would rule the younger Eteocles won out and Polyneices took refuge in Argos from where he decided to wage war on ThebesThat s the situation when the play startsthe playMuch of the play isn t all that interesting It is 1078 lines long Almost 23 of it is occupied with for us a pretty boring listing of the six invading chieftains who have been selected to assault six gates of Thebes and who Polyneices will select to oppose them The armour of each attacker is described in detail the boastfulness and blood lust of each of them is laid out all with commentary by Polyneices who invokes the gods to help Thebes defend against the unholy attackIn all this there is a chorus which has about half the lines These are women who are lamenting the attack and emphasize their great fear at what will happen to them if when the attackers win the city Polyneices repeatedly basically tells the women to shut up and stop wailing instead be brave trust in the gods and their own heroes to defend the city This is repeated as each of the six gates are mentionedThe play get s interesting when Polyneices is told that the seventh gate will be assaulted by his brother So I ll let the description go at this point no spoilersThe appearance of Oedipus daughters near the end of the play adds additional interest However ancient sources tell us that Aeschylus did not write this section of the play it was added decades later for reasons apparently associated with the popularity of Sophocles play Antigone The translator tells us that we have no way of knowing how the last section of the play was actually composed by Aeschylus hence there s nothing to do but simply translate what we have even though we know it s not accuratethe edition I have is the Penguin Classics edition containing four plays this one Prometheus Bound The Suppliants and The Persians The translator was Philip Vellacott who also writes a good Introduction and supplies very useful end notes to specific words phrases and references in the playsthe ErinyesMention of the Erinyes recalled to me the sixth book of Anthony Powell s Dance to the Music of Time The Kindly Ones The Greek Eumenides the gracious ones or the kindly ones was another name for the Erinyes an example of an oft repeated idea in ancient cultures to bestow an alternative name on fearsome deities which would allow mention of them without giving voice to the original name in order to ward off bad fortune Previous review Main StreetNext review PyramidOlder review The Scandals of ClochemerlePrevious library review The Persians Next library review Prometheus Bound both by Aeschylus

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Inst Thebes The third and only remaining play in a trilogy dealing with related events The Seven Against Thebes tells the story of the Argive attempt to claim the Kingdom of Thebes and of the deaths of the brothers Eteocles and Polyne. Fate and sibling rivalry


10 thoughts on “Ἑπτὰ ἐπὶ Θήβας

  1. says:

    When a curse arising from an ancient oracle Falls due the settlement is heavy3 12This is the second of seven plays by Aeschylus which have survived It was written around 467 BC It was probably not given this name when first performed in Athens The Athenians were sort of pissed off at Thebes at this time since a dozen yea

  2. says:

    Poor Polynices and Eteocles though to be honest Eteocles is an asshat The whole thing was justSo yeah Basically cursed by their grandfather Laius for disobeying Apollo and compounded by their father Oedipus Yikes You knew it wasn't going to end well Antigone is still my girl gotta reread it HERALDI forbid you to act thus in violation of the cityANTIGONEI forbid you to make useless proclamations to me Best part of this o

  3. says:

    The Seven Against Thebes is a play centered around the prelude to the attack on Thebes by seven warlords including one of Oedipus' sons I like to think of it as a preuel to Antigone; in fact I think I could throw this play in with the Theban plays of Sophocles even though it was a different playwright who wrote i

  4. says:

    Structurally this play reminded me a bit of The Suppliants a lot of action is crammed into the pages of this tiny play dealing with themes such as war the curse of Oedipus determinismfate as they relate to this and brotherly conflict with Eteocles and Polyneices the Cain and Abel of this little work but as with The Suppl

  5. says:

    The jealous rivalry of two brothers12 March 2012 When we come to Aeschylus we must remember that this is drama at its most primitive This is because the works of Aeschylus are the oldest form of drama that remains extant It appears that Aeschylus wrote most of his plays as trilogies and unfortunately we only have one play of this tr

  6. says:

    Fate and sibling rivalry

  7. says:

    33 Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylustranslated from Ancient Greek by George Theodoridis 2010performed 467 bce for

  8. says:

    In Shakespeare's Richard the Second the entire first act is spent preparing for a duel between two characters Then just as the blade to blade action is ready to begin the duel is called off by the king denying the audience of any momentary climax Imagine that Act as an entire play and you've got Seven Against Thebes It's like a boxing match in which all we hear is the opening ring announcer and then the post fight commentary Seriously the

  9. says:

    SPOILER ALERT One of the worlds oldest plays but it nonetheless is a read worthwhile It is an interesting exploration of the human co

  10. says:

    I liked Heaney's adaptation of Sophocles 'Antigone' the this Aeschylus original I mention Heaney's because the play revolves around the same storyline but obviously different angles and authors My challenge with this play is