39 pages 1 hour read


The Seven against Thebes

Fiction | Play | Adult | Published in 467

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Lines 369-791Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Lines 369-791 Summary (Second Episode and Second Stasimon)

The Chorus announces the arrival of the Messenger, who has come with more news about the enemy. Eteocles enters to hear his report. In seven paired speeches, the Messenger names the hero attacking each of the seven gates of Thebes, focusing especially on their shield devices, while Eteocles responds by interpreting the shield devices and appointing a suitable warrior to face each threat.

At the first gate, the Proetid Gate, stands Tydeus, an arrogant warrior whose shield device shows a full moon surrounded by stars. Criticizing Tydeus’s arrogance, Eteocles sends the modest Melanippus against him. The Chorus wishes Melanippus luck.

At the second gate, the Electra Gate, stands the massive Capaneus, who mocks even Zeus himself with his impious boasts. His shield device is a naked man with a torch, with the words “I’ll burn the city” (434) written out in gold letters. Eteocles reflects that Capaneus’s own impiety will lead to his downfall, and sends the pious Polyphontes against him. The Chorus prays for the destruction of Capaneus.

At the third gate, the Gates of Neïs, is Eteoclus, whose shield shows an armed man climbing a ladder to scale an enemy tower. On the shields are the words “Ares himself shall not cast me from the tower” (469).