The Library of History

Page 163

Page 163 At which time Tydeus the Son of Oeneus King of Calydonia, was fled out of Aetolia to Argos, for Killing of his Nephews Alcathous and Lycotheus. Adrastus kindly entertain'd them both, and by command of the Oracle, gave his Daughter Argia in marriage to Polynices, and Deipyle to Tydeus. The young Men being both in great Honour and Esteem, and highly approved of by the King for their virtuous Qualifications, Adrastus promis'd to restore them both to their own Countries. Resolving therefore first to bring back Polynices, he sent Tydeus on an Embassage to Etocles to debate the matter with him: In his Return, it's said, he was set upon by Fifty Men, imploy'd by Eteocles to way-lay him; all whom notwithstanding he slew, and came safe, beyond all seeming Probability to Argos. Adrastus being inform'd of this piece of Treachery, prepar'd all things necessary for the War, and Procur'd Capaneus, Hippomedon and Parthenopaeus the Son of Atalanta, the Daughter of Sheneus to joyn with him: Polynices also endeavour'd to persuade Amphiraus the Sooth-sayer, to go along with them to the War against Thebes; but he foreknowing he should fall in that War if he went, refus'd to stir. Polynices therefore presented Amphiraus his Wife with a Golden-Chain (which as is reported, was bestow'd upon Harmonia by Minerva) to persuade her Husband to joyn with them as one of their Confederates. There being some Controversie about that time between Adrastus and Amphiaraus concerning the Kingdom, they agreed together to refer the whole matter in difference, both as to the Kingdom and the War, to the decisive Judgment of Euriphile the Sister of Adrastus, and Wife to Amphiaraus. Hereupon she gave Judgment for Adrastus, and that her Husband should joyn with the rest in the War against Thebes. Amphiaraus (though he lookt upon himself to be betray'd by his Wife,) yet prepar'd to go along with the other Captains: But before he went, commanded his Son Alchmeon, that after he was dead, he should kill Eriphyle; who afterwards executed his Father's Commands, by murdering his Mother; but was some time after so terrify'd in Conscience with the horridness of the Fact, that he went stark mad.

But to proceed; Adrastus, Polynices and Tydeus, together with Four other Captains, Amphiraus, Capaneus, Hippomedon, and Parthenopeus, with a great Army, marcht against Thebes; where Eteocles and Polynices kill'd each other. Capeneus in attempting to scale the Walls, was likewise slain. The Earth open'd her Mouth and swallow'd up Amphiaraus and his Chariot together, and so he was never more seen. All the rest of the Generals likewise perish'd in this War except Adrastus, and a great Slaughter there was among the common Souldiers, whom the Thebans would not suffer to be carried off the Ground; so that Adrastus was forc'd to leave them unbury'd, and return to Argos.

The Bodies of the Slain thus lying unbury'd at Cadmea, none daring to interr them, the Athenians (always commendable above others for their Humanity) took care of this matter, and bury'd them all. And these were the Misfortunes that befel the Seven Captains in the War at Thebes.

But the Children of them that were Slain (call'd † Epigoni) to revenge their Father's Deaths, all joyn'd together, and resolv'd to make War upon that City. The Oracle of Apollo (upon Enquiry) answer'd them, that they should overcome Thebes, if they made Alchmaeon the Son of Amphiaraus their General. Whereupon Alchmaeon being accordingly (with unanimous consent) created Commander in chief, consulted the Oracle, both concerning the present intended Expedition, and the Revenge that he was injoyn'd by his Father to execute upon Eripyle his Mother. The Oracle commanded him to perform both, because she not only receiv'd a Chain of Gold for what she did, which was the occasion of his Father's Death, but a rich Vale likewise as a Bribe, in order to the ruine of himself. Venus (they say) heretofore bestow'd this Chain and Garment upon Harmonia the Wife of Cadmus; but both were given to Eripyle; the Chain by Polynices, and the Vale by Thersandrus, Polynices his Son, that she might persuade Alchmaeon, to go to the Theban War.

Alchmaeon therefore rais'd Souldiers out of Argos, but great Numbers out of the Neighbouring Towns, and with these he marcht against Thebes: The Thebans issued out of the City against them, upon which there was a sharp Ingagement; but the Alchmeons at length got the Day. The Thebans being thus overcome with a great Slaughter of their Citizens, seeing themselves too weak for the other, utterly despair'd of all future Success, and therefore consulted

Bibliotheca Historica

The first five books