Accessible introductions to ancient tragedies. Each volume discusses
the main themes of a play and the central developments in modern
criticism, while also addressing the play's historical context and the
history of its performance and adaptation.
One of our earliest surviving Greek tragedies, Aeschylus' Seven Against Thebes
is an extraordinarily rich poetic text. It dramatises the civil war
between the sons of Oedipus ?Polynices, the exile, and Eteocles,
reigning king of Thebes. Polynices marches on Thebes to regain his
throne along with six other champion warriors and their armies, but the
expedition is doomed, and the meaning of Oedipus' enigmatic curse on his
sons ultimately becomes clear through their simultaneous fratricide and
the extinction of the Theban house.
This book places the drama
within the context of the connected trilogy of which it was a part. It
investigates the play's tensions between city and family and the
omnipresence of curse and ritual within the religious and political
environment of fifth century Greece. The drama's focus on the world of
male warriors, and its stark opposition of the sexes through the female
Chorus, is analysed in terms of warrior ideology in epic and Greek
understanding of appropriate behaviour. Finally, it explores the complex
legacy of the play through its influence on Sophocles and Euripides,
and shows how the drama's condemnation of civil war has been exploited
as an analogue for events in modern history.