Lecture 14 - The Aftermath of the War of the Seven Against...

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The Aftermath of the War of the Seven Against Thebes 10/21/08
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Review: The War of the Seven against Thebes After the revelation of the truth about Oedipus, Eteocles and Polynices agree to reign in alternate years Eteocles hogs the throne Polynices assembles army with Adrastos, and attacks Thebes Eteocles and Polynices kill each other in battle Kreon takes the throne of Thebes
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Rules of War in Ancient Greece Unofficial rules govern conduct during and after battle in wars between Greek city-states Violation of these rules results in loss of prestige/honor Rule #1: Limit use of non-hoplite arms Rule #2: Pursuit of defeated and retreating opponents should be limited Rule #3: No killing soldiers AFTER surrender Rule #4: Noncombatants should not be primary targets of attack Rule #5: All battle dead have right to burial
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Violations of Rules of War in Myths Most common rule violated in myths about wars – rule concerning burial of war dead Aftermath of the War of the Seven: Kreon either forbids Polynices to be buried OR refuses burial to all enemy dead Homer’s Iliad : Achilles mutilates body of Hector after killing him, and refuses him burial Gilgamesh kills Humbaba AFTER latter surrenders; same for Aeneas and Turnus
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Aftermath of the War of the Seven against Thebes Two major tragedies dealing with aftermath of the war, each focusing on a different issue Antigone (ca. 442 BC): individual/ oikos vs. polis Suppliant Women (late 420s): the right of the defeated to bury the bodies of the dead; contrast of Athens and Thebes
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Sophocles’ Antigone Antigone – chronologically the last of Theban plays, but composed first (ca. 442 BC) Oedipus Tyrannos – ca. 429 BC Oedipus at Colonus – composed in 407/6 BC Antigone picks up where Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes left off Unusual: no mention of Athens or specific references to Ath. politics
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Antigone : Plot Events take place in Thebes on the day after end of war Antigone urges Ismene to come with her and bury Polynices; Ismene refuses Kreon addresses the chorus of Theban elders, tells them of his edict re: burial of Eteocles and no burial for Polynices Guard reports to Kreon that someone violated his edict and performed funeral rites for Polynices
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Plot II The Chorus sings the Ode to Man Guard brings in Antigone: after the dirt has been swept off Polynices’ body, Antigone came back to rebury him Kreon’s interrogation of Antigone; she admits that what she did was against Kreon’s law, but she was following Zeus’ law Ismene asks A. to let her share her fate, but A. turns her down Chorus supports Kreon initially, but is worried about him killing his own son’s bride
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Plot III Chorus reminisces about curses on the Theban royal house Haemon pleads for A. with his father, but is turned down Kreon orders A. to be shut into a rocky cave outside the city A. proclaims to be happy to be about to join her father, mother, and both brothers overvaluing immediate family over marriage
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