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Lecture 21

GRST 209 Lecture Notes - Lecture 21: Seven Against Thebes, Tydeus, Melanippus


Department
Greek and Roman Studies
Course Code
GRST 209
Professor
Bryan Natali
Lecture
21

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GRST 209 4 March Fri
The Seven Against Thebes (Continued)
• The invaders arrived at Thebes and made a blood-oath that they would level
Thebes or die trying
• Seven commanders each defended one of Thebes’ seven gates against the
seven invaders
• A blind seer, Tiresias foretold that the Thebans would be victorious if Creon’s
son was sacrificed to Ares (he overhears and kills himself)
• The Thebans draw lots to see who will face whom and Eteocles is paired with his
brother Polynices
• Tydeus and Melanippus each mortally wounded each other and Athena, seeking
to keep Tydeus alive, asked Zeus for an immortality potion
• Amphiaraus hated Tydeus because he was in favour of the war and knew what
Athena was planning; he cut off Melanippus head and gave it to Tydeus
He cracked open M.’s skull and started eating his brains. Athena threw down the potion in
disgust and Tydeus died
• Amphiaraus fled on his chariot and was about to be speared in the back when
Zeus, who loves seers, opened up the earth and had him swallowed up by it
An underground oracle gave prophecies where this happened (chthonic cult)
• Polynices says that he has justice on his side (his shield says as much). Eteocles
knows that he must face his brother in mortal conflict and says, “When the gods
give evil, you cannot escape their gift”
• Eteocles and Polynices kill each other in combat fulfilling the curse of their
father; the dying Polynices uses his last bit of strength to stab his brother and they
died side by side
• Everyone dies except Adrastus (as the seer Amphiaraus foretold)
• Ten years later, Amphiaraus’ son Alcmaeon avenged his father by killing
Eriphylê, escaped to a nearby kingdom, and gave the necklace of Harmonia to the
queen. A famine occurred and he left, driven insane by the matricide (miasma) he
eventually was murdered. Finally the necklace was dedicated at Delphi.
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