Eteocles (ee-TEE-oh-kleez), the son of Oedipus and grandson of Laius. Long ago, Laius, the king of Thebes, was warned by the oracle of Apollo that, should he beget a son, this act would bring ruin on his ancestral city. Laius disregarded the warning and became the father of Oedipus, thus bringing a curse upon his house. Oedipus, exposed by his parents on Mount Cithaeron, was rescued by a shepherd. Grown to manhood, Oedipus unknowingly slew his father and then solved the riddle of the Sphinx, thus rescuing Thebes from the monster. Made king of Thebes, he—again unknowingly—married Jocasta, his mother. Of this incestuous union were born four children. When Oedipus finally learned what he had done, he blinded himself, and Jocasta took her own life. It was agreed that Eteocles and Polynices, his sons, should rule Thebes in alternate years. They mistreated their blind father, who, dying, put on them the curse that they should die by each other’s hands. Eteocles refused to allow his brother his turn at ruling and drove him from Thebes, whereupon Polynices enlisted the aid of six warriors from Argos and, with himself at the head of their forces, besieged his native city. At the beginning of the play, Eteocles is informed by a scout that each Argive champion has been chosen by lot to attack one of the seven gates of Thebes. Having calmed the fears of the terrified Thebans, Eteocles sends a warrior to defend each...
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