Sunday, February 26, 2017

Seven Against Thebes by Aeschylus

King Eteocles must defend the seven gates of Thebes

The two sons of tragic Oedipus agree to share the kingdom of Thebes.  Eteocles takes power, but then refuses to give it up to his brother Polynices.  Polynices raises an army, featuring seven brave heros, including himself.  After analyzing each attacker’s shield, Eteocles assigns an appropriate Theben defender.  The final attacker is Polynices -- Eteocles goes to fight him himself and each brother kills the other.

This is a drama that is not so very dramatic, but I liked it.  It’s more like a philosophical logical musing, a story that, like Song of Roland, comes from a time before television and novels, when people were entertained by the lengthy descriptions of valiant warriors.  Eteocles describes each of the attackers and assigns a complementary defender.  It reminded me of a children’s card game, or of Tarot, in which the strengths and weaknesses of each card are analyzed.  The best one was the warrior with the blank shield.  He could be anything you wanted him to be.  You would have to do something really interesting for the staging, however, to keep the audience engaged.

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