“Seven Against Thebes” by Aeschylus

Eteocles and Polynices

Two sons of Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices, killed each other in battle, because they were not willing to share their father’s kingdom. They perished in a manner appropriate to their names –with “true glory”(Eteocles) and “much strife”(Polynices). Aeschylus attributed the mutual destruction of the two brothers to the sins of their grandfather, the curse of their father and the wrath of the gods, whereas Euripides attributed it to their own characters and actions, in his play based on the same event, The Phoenician Women.


“What else but that suffering is a resident in the house?
Friends, with the wind of lamentation in your sails
ply in accompaniment the regular beating of hands on head,
[like the rhythmic beat of a ship’s oars]
which is for ever crossing the Acheron,
propelling on a sacred mission from which there is no return
the black-sailed ship,
on which Apollo Paeon never treads and the sun never shines,
to the invisible shores that welcome all.”



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