set of twelve archaic epic poems, known to
every educated Greek. The best-known were Homer's
are also the only epics that have survived.
The Thebais is the third epic of the Epic Cycle; it is attributed to Homer. It tells the story that is also known as the Seven against Thebes:
how seven warriors, commanded by king Adrastus of Argos, unsuccessfully
besiege the city. The war culminates in the battle between two sons of
Oedipus, one fighting for, one fighting against Thebes. Their killing
each other means that the siege comes to an end. The story is best
known from Aeschylus' tragedy. From the fragments, we can deduce that these sad events were caused by a curse by the blind Oedipus.
1. Contest of Homer and Hesiod 323:
Homer traveled about reciting his Epics, first the Thebaid, in seven
thousand verses, which begins: "Sing, goddess, of parched Argos, whence
"Then the heaven-born hero, golden-haired Polyneices, first set beside
Oedipus a rich table of silver which once belonged to Cadmus the
divinely wise: next he filled a fine golden cup with sweet wine. But
when Oedipus perceived these treasures of his father, great misery fell
on his heart, and he straightway called down bitter curses there in the
presence of both his sons. And the avenging Fury of the gods failed not
to hear him as he prayed that they might never divide their father's
goods in loving brotherhood, but that war and fighting might be ever
the portion of them both."
3. Laurentinian Scholiast on Sophocles' Oedipus at Colonus, 1375:
And when Oedipus noticed the haunch, he threw it on the ground and
said: "Oh! Oh! my sons have sent this mocking me..." So he prayed to
Zeus the king and the other deathless gods that each might fall by his
brother's hand and go down into the house of Hades."
4. Pausanias, Guide to Greece, 8.24.8:
Adrastus fled from Thebes "wearing miserable garments, and took black-maned Areion with him."
5. Pindar, Olympian Ode 6.15:
But when the seven dead had received their last rites in Thebes, the
Son of Talaüs [Adrastus] lamented and spoke thus among them: "Woe is
me, for I miss the bright eye of my host, a good seer and a stout
6. Apollodorus, Library, 1.74:
Oeneus married Periboes the daughter of Hipponoüs. The author of
the Thebais says that when Olenus had been stormed, Oeneus received her
as a prize.
7. Pausanias, Guide to Greece, 9.18.6:
Near the spring is the tomb of Asphodicus. This Asphodicus killed
Parthenopaeus the son of Talaüs in the battle against the Argives, as
the Thebans say; though that part of the Thebais which tells of the
death of Parthenopaeus, says that it was Periclymenus who killed
8. Scholiast on Apollonius, Argonautica, 1.308:
The authors of the Thebaïs say that Manto the daughter of
Teiresias was sent to Delphi by the Epigoni as a first fruit of their
spoil, and that in accordance with an oracle of Apollo she went out and
met Rhaecius, the son of Lebes, a Mycenaean by race. This man she
married - for the oracle also contained the command that she
should marry whomsoever she might meet - and coming to Colophon,
was there much cast down and wept over the destruction of her