What is significant about  Eteocles and Polyneices in the war for power?

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MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eteocles and Polynieces are Oedipus' only sons, the last surviving male members of the cursed family (excluding Creon, not related to Oedipus by blood). Their father's sins brought the curse upon them, decreeing by fate that they would kill each other in battle.

Upon Oedipus' death, Eteocles is chosen for the throne. However, Polynieces wants to rule as well. He raises a great army (7 princes as captains) against Thebes and his brother. A horrific battle proceeds. The brothers slay each other on the battlefield, and Creon becomes the king of the city. Eteocles, as the hero on the side of right and law, is given a respectful burial. But Polynieces is labeled a traitor for raising armies against his city. Creon decrees that his body must be left to rot outside the city gates, never to be buried.