Ans. Thebes is an ancient city in Boetia in east-central Greece. It is one of the chief Greek city-states. It is traditionally said to have been founded by Cadmus. It was the seat of legendary Oedipus, and the setting of many classic Greek tragedies. The building of its celebrated seven-gated wall is usually attributed to Amphion. It was a centre of Mycenaean power in the Bronze Age (C. 1500-1200 BC). Hostility to Athens led it to side with the Persians in the Persian Wars and with Sparta in the Pelopnnesian War. Thebes and Sparta subsequently clashed, and the victorious Spartans occupied it. It revolted in C. 380 BC. and defeated Sparta at the battles ofTegyra in 375 BC. and Leuctra in 371 BC. For the next 10 years it was the chief military power in Greece. It joined Athens against Philip II of Macedon and shared the defeat at the battle of Cheronea in 338 B.C.It was sacked by Alexander the Great in 336 B.C. and eventually fell to Rome in the first ccntuly BC. Among the few remnants of the city Walls, are the Mycenaean palace (C. 1450-1350 BC) and a temple of Apollo.
The legend of Thebes goes like this. Cadmus, the founder of Thebes, was the son of Agenor, king of Tyre. His sister Europa was abducted by Zeus. Cadmus set out in qpest of his sister, as his father wished. Apollo asked him, through Deiphic oracle, not to continue the search, but follow a cow as long as it would not lie down. There he founded the city known as Cadmea. He asked his companions to bring some waterfrom a spring guarded by a dragon. The companions were all killed. Therefore Cadmus himself went there and killed the dragon. Instructed by Athene, he sowed the dragon’s teeth. Out of the teeth there came forth a large number of well-armed warriors. Cadmus threw a Stone among them, and this set them fighting each other. Most of them were killed except the five who were called the Sparti. With the help of these men, Cadmus fortified the city. These five warriors were the ancestors of Theban families.
Later on, Antiope, grand-daughter of Chthonios, one of the five Sparti, was seduced by Zeus, and two sons were born to her — Amphion and Zethus. Antiope fled, and her father Nycteus told his brother, king of Thebes, to punish Antiope, and then he killed himself. Lycus imprisoned Antiope and treated her with inhuman cruelty. Antiope escaped, and her sons killed Lycus. The brothers became king. Amphion married Niobe, and Zethus married Thebe, after whom the city of Thebes has been named. In course of time Laius married locaste and ruled over Thebes. Grieved by prolonged childlessness he secretly consulted the Delphic oracle which informed him that this seeming misfortune was a blessing becausariy child born to locaste would becone his murderer. Oedipuswas borntoTocaste. The three plays of Sophocles — Oedipus Rex, Oedzpus at Colonus, and Antigone are based on the legend of Thebes. Of course, some other Greek dramatists also drew on the legends of Thebes. Each of them made his own modifications of the legends and adapted the stories of the legends to suit their own purposes
I tell you I do believe you had a hand
In plotting, and all but doing this vely act.
This provokes Teiresias, and he is now rather compelled to speak out a bit more specifically about Oedipus’s position. He says:
from this day forth
Never to speak to me or any here.
You are the cursed polluter of this land.
When Oedipus, still more in rage, demands that Teiresias should
be more clear, he says: –
I say that the killer you are seeking is yourself.
Teiresias is no god, but he knows the secrets of human destiny. In the beginning of his encounter with Oedipus he purposely remains ambiguous, and tries to veil the truth in dark hints and riddles. This bespeaks of his essential humanity. He feels very hesitant to tell Oedipus that he is the murderer of his own father, and is now guilty of incest with his mother. It would be too much for him, and so he has recourse to riddles and hints. He does not clearly and specifically tell that Oedipus himself is the sinner till he is provoked to the extreme limit. Even when Oedipus is in a fit of frenzy Teiresias has a sort of sympathy for him.
Teiresias appears to be courageous, and remains firm even when Oedipus threatens him with the punishment of death. He speaks out firmly that the truth will be his defence.
Teiresjas contributes greatly to the dramatic irony which is present throughout the play. He knows the full import of what he says, as does the audience, though Oedipus does not understand for the moment the impact of Teiresias ‘s prediction.
Teiresias comes out quite alive in the role that he plays in the drama.