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CLA204H1 - November 18

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University of Toronto St. George
Lee Sawchuk

Introduction to Classical Mythology Seven Against Thebes - battle between Argos and Thebes Tiresias • Seer of Thebes • Descended from Spartoi • Hesiod: lived for seven generations • Seer in death • Blind – Ovid Met. 3 – Apollodorus M8 – Callimachus 5 -“Friend, do not mourn for him, since many other gifts form my hand await him for your sake: I will make him a prophet celebrated in songs of posterity, and one greatly surpassing all the rest. He will understand birds, which are holy, which take wing without meaning, and those whose flights bode ill. Many oracles will he deliver to the Boiotians, many to Cadmos and later to the mighty descendants of Labdacos. I will grant him a great staff that will direct his step as he needs and a life that shall end in the distant future. And when he dies, he alone will move about the dead with awareness, honored by might Hagesilas.” Callimachus 5.119-130 The Seven Against Thebes • Eteocles and Polyneices (sons of Oedupis and Jocasta, in the versions where he has children with his mother) – Cursed by Oedipus - three times - because they disrespect him twice; they keep him shut in; treat him terribly - curses them a third time when he leaves for Athens - "they will forever be at each other's throats" - after Oedipus gives up the throne, Eteocles and Polyneices are next in line - decide to share the throne – Alternate rule in Thebes (alternate every year) • Eteocles refuses to give up throne - not sure if he started the rule, but when his time came to hand it over he refused • Polyneices goes to Argos – King Adrastos is the current ruler • Adrastos's oracle: marry his daughters to a boar and a lion - what does this mean? – Polyneices and Tydeus (of Calydon; exiled for killing his brother) fight - Adrastos sees the fight and notices that Tydeus's shield has an image of a boar, and Polyneices's has an image of a lion - breaks them apart and welcomes them into his home • Marry Adrastos’ daughters ***Image: Adrastos separating Tydeus and Polyneices - not clear who is who - one is being held back from stabbing with a sword, other held back from swinging an axe - depicted as young men - Adrastos has a beard (older) - daughters on the side - entranceway behind shows the palace - Adrastos now has two son-in-laws with claims to thrones where they came from - Tydeus is famous for the Calydonian boar hunt - he will become the father of Diomedes (guy who wounds Ares in the Iliad) • Attempt to restore Polyneices to throne – Amphiaraus is a commander who he wants in his army; he is a prophet; he foresees doom - decides that he will go with whatever decision his wife makes (Eriphyle) – Eriphyle bribed by Polyneices and then sides with Adrastos - bribes her using the necklace that Harmonia received from Hera when she married Cadmus - in other versions of the myth Adrastos bribes her with a custom-made necklace - Amphiaraus tells his son to avenge him by killing his mother – Seven commanders (because there are seven gates to Thebes) • Polyneices, Adrastos, Amphiaraus, Tydeus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, Parthenopaeus - they lay siege to Thebes and it looks like Thebes will not survive • Tiresias’ prophesy for Theban victory - Creon's son (last of spartoi) sacrificed to Ares - when his son hears about it, he commits suicide - oracle is complete so Thebes will not fall • Seven Thebans defend the Seven gates – Each face one of the seven commanders – Eteocles faces Polyneices • Planned, or by drawing lots - they fight ***Image: some guy giving some woman a necklace - described in some books as Polyneices bribing the wife with the necklace from Harmonia - why is there a staff? young men going to war wouldn't need it - beard? - could be a different version---Adrastos bribing the wife (with someone else's necklace) - could be depicting her as a prostitute? • Defeat of the Seven - only one person can scale the wall (Capaneus) - on his way up he brags that not even Zeus can throw him off the wall - so of course Zeus does it
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