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Lecture 11

CLA204H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 11: Polynices, Laius, Pentheus

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Marion Durand

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From last week
Deus ex machina
This Week
Aeschylus and Euripides
Statius and Lost Epics
Theban Sagas were very popular - sources today will vary; along with many fragments
496-406 BCE
oHeart of Classical Athens
Classical Greek Period tragedian
7 extant plays
oMuch more prolific; lost some other texts
oIncluding Oedipus "trilogy" - fit nicely as a trilogy, but not written/performed
together - written at different times
Introduced third actor, increased chorus
Interested in character development, conflict between/within characters
Themes of: fate, prophecy, duty, vicissitudes of fortune
The Backstory
Takes place in Thebes
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The Rape of Europa
Phoenician Princess
Daughter of Agenor, sister of Cadmus
Zeus lusted over her
oDisguised as a beautiful white bull
oEuropa jumps onto his back, they leave
Zeus takes her to Crete
oMother of Minos, Sarpedon and Rhadamanthys
Depicted a lot in art, especially since the Renaissance
Brother of Europa, went to look for her
Despairs, can't find her
Goes to the Oracle, in Delphi
oFollows a cow, taken to Thebes where the cow collapses
oFounds the city Cadmeia
Spring of Ares
Killed the sacred snake who guarded the spring, Athena told him to plant the
teeth of the serpent
oFrom the teeth come the Spartoi
Becomes slave of Ares to appease him
Harmonia, daughter of Ares and Aphrodite, given to Cadmus
oDaughters: Ino, Semele, Autonoe, Agave
oRuled over the Cadmeians
Successor of Cadmus
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Euripides' Bacchae
oSemele had an affair with Zeus, has Dionysus
oPentheus' skepticism - despises Dionysian celebrations - arrests him
oDionysus, in retaliation, makes women go mad and insane: Maenads
oSparagmos - Dionysian ritual, where an animal is ripped limb by limb
In this case, Pentheus is ripped apart, instead of an animal -
Dionysus' retaliation
oAll of the sisters of Semele sent into exile - faced terrible fates
The Family of Labdacus
Labdacus, successor of Pentheus, grandson of Cadmus
oDies, leaves one infant baby Laius
Lycus, son of Chthonius, regent - while baby is too young to rule
oDistant relative, a Spartoi
oReigns for about 20 years
Amphion and Zethus, sons of Antiope and Zeus
oSons are raised by shepherds as mother is imprisoned by Lycus
oGrow up, find mother, avenge her by killing Lycus
oSuccessors of Lycus
oZethus marries Thebes
oBuilds walls around city
Successor of Amphion and Zethus
Married to Jocasta
Pelops gave him xenia, but broke it by abducting son Chrysippus
oLaius and his family is cursed
oPelops and Chrysippus commit suicide
Birth of Oedipus
Laius marries Jocasta, sister of Creon
oGive birth to Oedipus
Oracle at Delphi
oReceives oracle that say they should not have children
oIf they do, the child will kill Laius
One night, son is conceived
oDisrespects the Oracle
oMore cursing of the family line
Son is exposed on Mt. Citharaeon
oPierced/tied the baby's foot, which swells up
oRescued by shepherd
Adopted by the King and Queen of Corinth, Polybus and Merope, who were
trying to have a child - saw him as a godsend
oHappy childhood
oLineage repeatedly questioned
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