ch17thebes - Classics 10 Chapter 17 Spring 2010 Oedipus and...

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Classics 10: Chapter 17: Spring 2010 Oedipus and the Myths of Thebes I. The Founding of Thebes II. Oedipus and Sophocles III. The Seven Against Thebes IV. Antigonê: A Study in Contrasts Sophocles
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The Myths of Thebes Whole web of stories, interacting over generations; our knowledge incomplete Perhaps a lost Greek epic poem about Thebes; on the scale of Homeric poems 2nd most important Greek city in myth (Mycenae is first) Repeated destruction of family members From personal faults? “Pride” too easy! Fate and the gods? Nature of heroic myth?
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I. The Founding of Thebes Two complete foundation stories, later joined somewhat artificially First: Cadmus fights the dragon Second: the divine twins Amphion and Zethus Main city called Thebes for Zethus’ wife Thebê, while the acropolis (the heights) called the Cadmeia for Cadmus
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Cadmus and the Site of Thebes Cadmus, son of Agenor and sister of Europa, is sent by his father to find her Zeus as a bull had abducted Europa to Crete Ultimately goes to the oracle for help Goes to Delphi, who tells him to give up the search and found a city instead “Follow the cow with the special mark and found your city where she rests” City = Thebes; region = Boeotia: “Cowland”
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Boeotia: on major North-South route
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Cadmus and the Dragon Yet a huge serpent-dragon lives at a nearby spring, kills some of Cadmus’ men Cadmus himself then pins the dragon to a tree after a great fight Upon Athena’s suggestion, he then knocks out the dragon’s teeth and plants them Armed men grow from the spot, immediately start fighting each other Only five remain at the end, the Sparti, who become the heads of the five great families Sparti = “sown men”; no relation to Sparta
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Cadmus and Harmonia Cadmus marries Harmonia (an illegitimate daughter of Ares and Aphrodite) Wondrous wedding, which the gods attend Their children often go to mythical ruin Grandson Actaeon ripped apart by his dogs Semelê mothers Dionysus, blasted by Zeus Ino madly kills her children because of Hera’s anger over her caretaking of Dionysus Agavê rips apart son Pentheus as a Maenad
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Second Foundation Story: Amphion and Zethus Otherwise unknown son of Cadmus, Polydorus marries Nycteïs Her sister Antiopê seduced by Zeus, has twin sons Amphion and Zethus Twins are abandoned but raised by a shepherd, Antiopê mistreated because of her adultery, but escapes and finds her sons, who avenge her Then they found Thebes, named for Zethus’ wife Thebê Amphion marries Niobê, who boasts that she is better than Leto because she has more kids (whoops!)
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The Two Foundings of Thebes One Near Eastern, modeled after cosmic dragon combat (and creation story)?
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