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The πόλεις are the cities which had furnished contingents to the Argive expedition against Thebes. These cities are stirred with passionate hatred against Creon by the tidings that burial has been refused to their fallen warriors. There is no direct allusion to the war of the Epigoni,—the expedition which the sons of the fallen chiefs led against Thebes, and in which they destroyed it. Bergk's “συνταράξονται” might suggest such an allusion; but the pres. συνταράσσονται is right. The reference is to the feelings which now agitate the cities. Those feelings are one day to produce the new war. Here the prophet notes them only as signs of a still distant storm. Having foretold a domestic sorrow for the father, he now foreshadows a public danger for the king.

It has been objected that the play contains no hint of burial having been denied to any one except Polyneices. This is not exactly the case: the phrase “τῶν ἐχθρῶν κακά” in v. 10 is such a hint. But it was unnecessary for the poet to state a fact which all his hearers would assume. Every one knew how Creon had refused burial to the Argives, and how Theseus had recovered their corpses by force of arms. In the Supplices of Eur. the Chorus consists of widows and mothers of the unburied warriors. No Athenian exploit was more famous (Her. 9.27; Isocr. Paneg. § 52, Encom. Helen. § 31, Panath. § 168; Plat. Menex. 244; [Lys. ] or. 2 §§ 4 ff.: [Dem. ] or. 60 §§ 7 ff.). The war of the Epigoni, which was included in the epic Thebais ( Paus. 9. 9§ 5), was dramatised both by Aesch. and by Soph. (“Ἐπίγονοι”).

Just as, in the O. C. (1410 n.), Soph. glances at the theme of his Antigone, so here he might naturally glance—however indirectly—at a later chapter of the Theban story,—whether his Epigoni already existed, or was still in the future. Dramatically, the reference is the more fitting, since the legend represented Teiresias as still living, and still zealous for Theban welfare, when the Epigoni came.—For other views of the passage, see Appendix.

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hide References (7 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (7):
    • Demosthenes, Funeral Speech, 7
    • Herodotus, Histories, 9.27
    • Isocrates, Panegyricus, 52
    • Lysias, Funeral Oration, 4
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 9.9
    • Plato, Menexenus, 244
    • Sophocles, Oedipus at Colonus
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