39 pages 1 hour read


The Seven against Thebes

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 467

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Lines 1-368Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 1-180 Summary (Prologue and Parodos)

Content Warning: This section of the study guide includes references to murder, incest, and war, which feature in the source text.

The play is set in the city of Thebes. Eteocles, the king of Thebes, enters with his attendants and speaks to a crowd of Thebans. In the first part of the Prologue, Eteocles addresses the crowd with a speech in which he reflects on the king’s role to guide his city in times of crisis. He calls on the people of Thebes to defend their city, each performing the duties that are best suited to their respective abilities. Though the war has been going well for Thebes so far, Eteocles has learned from a prophet that the enemy is preparing to assault the walls. He orders the warriors to arm and man the walls.

A Messenger enters. He brings word of the seven heroes—the “Seven Against Thebes”—leading the invasion of Thebes, saying that they have sworn an oath to conquer the city or die trying. Each of the seven will attack one of the seven gates of Thebes. The Messenger exits, promising to return when he has more news. Eteocles prays to the gods, asking them to save Thebes.