Thebes, the Seven Heroes of

Thebes, The Seven Heroes Of in Grecian mythology, were a body of chieftains who engaged in the first Theban war. Jocaste, the mother of AEdipus, was inadvertently guilty of incest with her son, and bore him the twin-brothers Eteocles and Polynices, though some authorities name Eurygania as their mother. After the discovery of his incest AEdipus was banished, and fled leaving his curse upon his children. Eteocles and Polynices agreed to reign alternately, a year at a time, and the former ascended the throne by virtue of seniority; but when the year expired he refused to make way for his brother, who thereupon fled to Adrastus, king of Argos, bearing with him the necklace and mantle of Harmpnia, both of which were covered with jewels and were exceedingly precious, having been made by Vulcan, but which were to bring misfortune to the person into whose possession they might come. Polynices reached Argos at night, and met Tydeus, who had just arrived from Etolia, and the two became involved in a quarrel, which Adrastus settled. An ancient oracle having commanded that the daughters of Adrastus should wed a lion and a boar, they were given to the visitors because they bore corresponding devices-Polynices a lion's, and Tydeus a boar's head. Adrea became the wife of the former, and Deipyle of the latter. Adrastus promised to recover the lost thrones for his sons-in-law, and directed his first efforts towards Thebes in behalf of Polynices the war of the Seven against Thebes (see uEschylus). The leading heroes of the Argives having been summoned, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, and Parthenopeeus joined the expedition, thus completing the list of seven. Amphiaraus, a favorite of Jupiter and Apollo, a seer, foresaw the failure of the attempt, and endeavored to avoid participating in it by concealing himself, but was discovered; and compelled by his sense of honor to unite with his comrades. In the forest of Nemea the heroes suffered much from thirst; but, meeting with Hypsipyle of Lemnos, the nurse of young Opheltes, son of Lycurgus, they induced her to direct them to a spring, which she did to the harm of Opheltes, however, whom a serpent destroyed in her absence. Funeral games were held in honor of the dead, but the gods had decreed the ruin of the expedition. Tydeus was sent in advance to negotiate, but without other result than that fifty men surprised him while returning, whom, with the single exception of Maon, he slew with his own hand. The heroes then took possession of all approaches to the city, and established themselves before the several gates. The seer Tiresias warned the Thebans that the city must fall, unless some one should voluntarily sacrifice himself for its deliverance. Menoeceus accordingly threw himself headlong from the wall, and the war began. Capaneus had already mounted the wall when Jupiter's lightning smote him to the ground, and with him fortune fled. Eteocles and Polvnices slew each other in single combat. Five of the seven heroes fell. Amphiaraus fled, and was received by Jupiter into the earth, while Adrastus escaped on his divine steed Arion, the offspring of Neptune. The victorious Thebans forbade the burial of their enemies on pain of death; and Creon caused Antigone, who had performed the last rites of love on the remains of her brother Polynices, to be buried alive. The humane intercession of Theseus, king of Athens, ultimately induced the Thebans to withdraw their cruel prohibition. Adrastus subsequently took up the sword again, and led the sons of the heroes, the so-called Epigoni, in a victorious campaign against Thebes.

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