Adrastus - Seven Against Thebes

Seven Against Thebes

Afterwards, however, Adrastus became reconciled to Amphiaraus, gave him his sister Eriphyle in marriage, and returned to his kingdom of Argos upon the swift immortal horse Arion, a gift of Heracles. During the time he reigned there it happened that Tydeus of Calydon and Polynices of Thebes, both fugitives from their native countries, met at Argos near the palace of Adrastus, and came to words and from words to blows. On hearing the noise, Adrastus hastened to them and separated the combatants, in whom he immediately recognised the two men that had been promised to him by an oracle as the future husbands of two of his daughters, for one bore on his shield the figure of a boar, and the other that of a lion, and the oracle was that one of his daughters was to marry a boar and the other a lion. Adrastus, therefore, gave his daughter Deipyle to Tydeus, and Argeia to Polynices, and at the same time promised to lead each of these princes back to his own country. Adrastus now prepared for war against Thebes, although Amphiaraus foretold that all who should engage in it should perish, with the exception of Adrastus.

Thus arose the celebrated war of the Seven against Thebes, in which Adrastus was joined by six other heroes, Polynices, Tydeus, Amphiaraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, and Parthenopaeus. Instead of Tydeus and Polynices other legends mention Eteoclos and Mecisteus. This war ended as unfortunately as Amphiaraus had predicted, and Adrastus alone was saved by the swiftness of his horse Arion.

After the battle, Creon, king of Thebes, ordered that none of the fallen enemies were to be given funeral rites. Against his order, Antigone buried Polynices and was put to death, but Adrastus escaped to Athens to petition Theseus, the city's king, to attack Thebes and force the return of the bodies of the remaining five. Theseus initially refused but was convinced by his mother, Aethra, who had been beseeched by the mothers of the fallen, to put the matter to a vote of the citizens. The Athenians marched on Thebes and conquered the city but inflicted no additional damage, taking only what they came for, the five bodies. They were laid upon a funeral pyre and Adrastus eulogized each.

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