LLT 121 CLASSICAL MYTHOLOGY: Legends of Thebes
Copyright  2001, Joseph J. Hughes
Last reviewed: 13 August 2001

I.   Early Legends of Thebes
     A. Rape of Europa
        1. Phoenician origins of Theban royal family
        2. yet another bull story
     B. Foundation of Cadmeia
        1. kills serpent, incurs miasma
        2. marries Harmonia
        3. teaches people to write
     C. Legend, by its nature, contains a kernel of historical fact

II.  The House of Labdacus
     A.	Labdacus, grandson of Cadmus & Harmonia
        1. succeeded by Amphion and Zethus as regents
        2. how un-Theban!
     B.	Laius, son of Labdacus
        1. flees Thebes to the court of Pelops
        2. cursed for rape of Pelops's son, Chrysippus
        3. returns to Thebes as King
           a. marries Jocasta, a descendant of the Spartoi
           b. consults Delphi because of childlessness: "son will kill the father"
           c. has intercourse while drunk
        4. Oedipus, "swollen foot" born to Laius & Jocasta
           a. exposed on Mt. Cithaeron (near Thebes)
           b. ankles pinned together to prevent his ghost from walking
           c. saved by a shepherd, adopted by Polybus and Merope
III. Oedipus
     A.	early career
        1. Oedipus leaves Corinth for Thebes to avoid fulfilling the oracle
        2. kills Laius, who is on his way to Delphi
        3. answers the Sphinx's riddle; made king
        4. marries Jocasta
           a. 2 sons: Polynices and Eteocles
           b. 2 daughters: Antigone and Ismene
     B.	the last days and death of Oedipus
        1. Old Oeddie comes to Colonus, a "suburb" of Athens, to die
        2. granted sanctuary by King Theseus, the beneficent king
        3. oracle at Delphi says the city with Oedipus' bones will be unconquerable
           a. Eteocles sends Creon to get Oedipus
           b. Polynices comes to beg Oedipus' forgiveness 
        4. Oedipus curses both his sons to kill each other in battle
        5. Oedipus dies a miraculous death - no remains
           a. becomes a cult hero
           b. Athens becomes more powerful than Thebes

IV.  Oedipus The King
     A.	plague at Thebes
        1. wholesale destruction
        2. people ask Oedipus' help
        3. Oedipus calls himself the 'sickest' of all: dramatic irony
     B.	Creon sent to Delphi by Oedipus
        1. answer: drive out the MIASMA from the land
        2. Oedipus unknowingly curses the guilty party: dramatic irony
     C.	Tiresias summoned
        1. Apollo's representative
        2. Tiresias refuses to tell what he knows
        3. Oedipus suspects treason
        4. Tiresias tells Oedipus he is the killer
     D.	Oedipus in denial
        1. makes references to Tiresias's blindness: dramatic irony
        2. tries to banish Creon for treason
        3. Oedipus' dilemma: either Creon or he is the killer
     E.	Oedipus tries to sort it out
        1. Jocasta tells Oedipus not to concern himself with prophecies
           a. the oracle delivered to her & Laius never came to pass
           b. every boy has an Oedipus complex
        2. Jocasta's description of Laius' killing: the crossroads
        3. Oedipus' life at Corinth
           a. horrible oracle
           b. leaves Corinth to avoid his fate
        4. Herdsman summoned
        5. Jocasta again decries prophecy
     F.	Messenger from Corinth
        1. Polybus dead: Oedipus can be king
        2. Messenger reveals Oedipus' origin
        3. Jocasta's realization and reaction to Fate
     G. Herdsman interrogated: Oedipus' identity revealed
     H. Oedipus's reaction
        1. rushes in to	kill Jocasta, who is already dead
        2. blinds himself
        3. begs for exile
        4. accepts and predicts his own fate

V.   The Seven Against Thebes
     A. the rule of Oedipus' sons, Eteocles and Polynices
        1. Eteocles reneges on alternate-rule plan
        2. Polynices goes to Adrastus in Argos for help
           a. takes necklace and robe
           b. married to Adrastus' daughter
     B. both brothers seek Oedipus' blessing: cursed instead
     C.	Tiresias' one of the Spartoi must be sacrificed to Ares
     D.	Polynices: kills and is killed by Eteocles
     E.	Thebes wins the war

VI.  The Aftermath of the War against Thebes
     A.	Creon as king
        1. declares it treasonous to bury Polynices
        2. the overzealous king: loses his niece, son and wife on his first day of rule
     B.	Antigone
        1. defies Creon's edict for a higher law
        2. buried alive by Creon
           a. Haemon, Creon's son and her fiancee, attempts rescue
           b. hangs herself shortly before she would have been saved
     C.	the Epigoni
        1. Adrastus appeals to Theseus: is allowed to bury his dead
        2. Ten Years After, the Epigoni form a 2nd expedition against Thebes
        3. Thebes taken

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