seven against Thebes
In mythical Greece, there were two strongest kingdoms: Thebes in Middle Greece and Argos in Southern Greece. In Thebes was once a king named Laia. He received the prophecy: “Thou shalt not kill a son, and destroy the kingdom!” Laius did not obey and gave birth to a son named Oedipus. He wanted to destroy the baby; but Oedipus escaped, grew up on someone else’s side, and then Laiya accidentally killed, not knowing that it was his father, and married his widow, not knowing that it was his mother. How it happened, and how it opened, and how Oedipus suffered for it, another playwright Sophocles will tell us. But the worst thing – the death of the kingdom – was yet to come.
Oedipus from the incestuous marriage with his own mother gave birth to two sons and two daughters: Eteokl, Poliknik, Antigone and Yemen. When Oedipus renounced power, his sons turned away from him, reproaching him for his sin. Oedipus cursed them, promising them to share power between them with the sword. And it happened. The brothers agreed to rule alternately, each year. But after the first year, Eteocles refused to leave and expelled Polynic from Thebes. Polynik fled to the southern kingdom – in Argos. There he gathered allies for himself, and they went sevenfold to the seven-fold Thebes. In the decisive battle, the two brothers converged and killed each other: Eteocle wounded Polynic with a spear, he fell to his knee,
Aeschylus wrote about this trilogy, three tragedies: “Laia” – about the culprit, “Oedipus” – about the sinful king and “Seven against the Thebes” – about Eteocles, the hero-king who gave his life for his city. Only the last is preserved. It is static in an old way, almost nothing happens on the stage; Only the king stands majestically, the messenger comes and goes, and the chorus wails pitifully.
Eteocles declares: the enemy is approaching, but the gods are the protection of Thebes; let each one fulfill his duty. The messenger confirms: yes, the seven leaders have already vowed to win or fall on the blood and draw lots, to whom to go to which gate. The chorus of the Theban women rushes in horror, feels death and prays the gods for salvation. Eteokl takes them away: war is a man’s business, and women’s business is to stay at home and not to embarrass the people with their fear.
Again is the messenger: the lots are cast, the seven leaders go to the attack. The central, most famous scene begins: the distribution of the gate. The bulletin frightfully describes each of the seven; Eteokl calmly replies and firmly gives orders.
“At the first gate is the hero of Theides: a helmet with a mane, a shield with bells, on the shield a starry sky with a month.” “Not in the mane of power and not in the bells: no matter how it is not overtaken by a black night.” And against the Argos head Eteokle sends the Theban. “At the second gate – the giant Capani, on the shield his warrior with a torch, threatened by fire to burn down Thebes, not afraid of him, neither people, nor gods.” “Whoever is not afraid of the gods, those gods will punish, who is next?” And Eteokle sends out the second leader.
“At the third gate – your namesake, Eteocles Argos, on the shield his warrior with a ladder climbs on the tower.” “We will put both – and one who is shielded and one who is on the shield.” And Eteokle sends out the third leader.
“At the fourth gate – strongman Hippomedont: shield – like a millstone, on a shield of snakes Typhon fluttering with fire and smoke,” “He has on the shield Typhon, we have Zeus with lightning, the winner of Typhon.” And Eteokle sends out the fourth leader.
“At the fifth gate – a handsome Parfenopei, on the shield of his wonder-Sphinx, riddled by Thebes.” “And on the living Sphinx there was a clerk, and painted to us and is even more fearless.” And Eteokle sends out the fifth leader.
“At the sixth gate is the wise Amphiarai: he is a prophet, he knew that he was going to die, but he was deceived, his shield is clean, and there are no signs on him.” “It’s bitter when a righteous person divides fate with evil: but as he foresaw, it will come true.” And Eteokle sends out the sixth leader.
“At the seventh gate your brother Polinik himself: either he himself will die, or he will kill you, or expel you with disgrace, as you do him, and on his shield the goddess of Truth is written.” “Woe is to us from the Oedipal curse, but not with him is the Holy Truth, but with Thebes.” I myself will go to him, the king to the king, brother to brother. ” “Do not go, king,” pleads the choir, “shed blood of brotherly blood.” “Better death than shame,” says Eteocles and leaves.
On the stage – only the choir: women in a gloomy song foresee the misfortune, remembering and prophesying to Laia: “The kingdom is to fall!” – and the curse of Oedipus: “Power – the sword divide!”; it’s time for reckoning. So it is – the messenger comes in with the message: six victories at the six gates, and before the seventh both brothers fell, killing each other – the end of the royal family of Theban!
Begins crying crying. They bring in a stretcher with the murdered Eteokles and Polynik, and go out to meet their sister Antigone and Yemen. Sisters start wailing, the chorus echoes them. They remember that the name of the Eteocles means “Veleslavny”, they remember that Polynik’s name means “Multiple-scale” – by name and fate. “Battled by the slain!” “Killed by the murderer!” – “THOUGHTS evil!” – “Suffering from evil!” They sing that the kingdom had two tsars, the sisters had two brothers, and there was not one: it happens when the sword divides power. A tragic ending ends tragic.