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Aeschylus' 7 Against Thebes Study Questions

Questions to think about while reading 7 Against Thebes, by Aeschylus


Seven Against Thebes Study Guide | Summary of Aeschylus' 7 Against Thebes | Characters | Terms to Know | Study Questions

While you read 7 Against Thebes there are many themes that may occur to you. Here are some questions you might try to answer or argue from both sides, especially the implicit one about whether Antigone's defiant scene was a later interpolation or part of the original, for which see, for instance: "The Ending of the 'Seven against Thebes,'" by Everard Flintoff; Mnemosyne (1980), pp. 244-271, and "The End of the Seven against Thebes, by A. L. Brown; The Classical Quarterly (1976), pp. 206-219.

You will also find scholarly articles that relate to the questions, although, since the questions are open-ended, don't expect to find the answers.

What is Aeschylus' Vision of the Gods?

Zeus, Ares, Hermes, Athena, and Apollo

Which gods feature most prominently in the play?
Where are they?
Do the Furies (Erinyes) play a role?
What is the difference in attitudes towards the gods between the chorus and Eteocles?

"Eteocles, Amphiaraus, and Necessity in Aeschylus' 'Seven against Thebes.'" by Ann DeVito; Hermes (2nd Qtr., 1999), pp. 165-171.

What Is Eteocles' Tragic Flaw?

Does Eteocles even have a tragic flaw?
What is it?
What evidence is there for "hubris" or "hamartia"?
Could the idea of a hero's tragic flaw be used to argue that Antigone's defiance is part of a later addition to the play?

"Seven against Thebes," by Philip Vellacott; The Classical World (Dec., 1979 - Jan., 1980), pp. 211-219.

What Does the Chorus Do?

Theatre at Syracuse Ruins
CC Flickr User Alun Salt.

Besides annoy Eteocles, that is? Why does it annoy Eteocles?
I see a parallel in the reaction Antigone has to the herald. Do you?
Could that be used to defend the position that the scene was part of the original play by Aeschylus?

"Prayer and Curse in Aeschylus' 'Seven against Thebes,'" by Eva Stehle; Classical Philology (Apr., 2005), pp. 101-122.

Was Aeschylus a Misogynist?

The tirade Eteocles launches at the chorus has been described as misogynistic. Can you support the idea that it is not? Does Aeschylus present the chorus as behaving in a justified manner even if Eteocles doesn't understand it? What danger is there in jumping to the conclusion that Aeschylus is a misogynist on the basis of a drama intended for a male audience? Is it fair to assume the audience was male (research required)?

How Do Events in Athens Affect this Tragedy Set in Thebes?

Athens, the head of the Delian League, had built walls, which its soon-to-be Peloponnesian War-enemy, Sparta, opposed. Do you think there is a political message?
A statement about war?
Does the play presage the Peloponnesian War or make reference to the Persian Wars, in which Aeschylus lost his brother and fought at the Battle of Marathon?

"Tragic Preludes: Aeschylus 'Seven against Thebes' 4-8," by Thomas K. Hubbard; Phoenix (Winter, 1992), pp. 299-308.

"The Seven against Thebes as Propaganda for Pericles," by L. A. Post; The Classical Weekly (Dec. 11, 1950), pp. 49-52.


Eteocles refers to himself as at the head of the ship of state. Try to notice any other nautical images. How does the scene describing the shields reference the Iliad?

For more on themes in The Seven Against Thebes, see The Path Guy.

Rosenmeyer points out the Eteocles' name means "true fame" and Polynices' means "much strife." ("Seven against Thebes. The Tragedy of War," by Thomas Rosenmeyer; Arion (Spring, 1962), pp. 48-78.) This article also points out metrical elements that one may not notice in English translation.

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