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The War of the EPIGONI

Warrior. 8808: Kriger. Graesk, arkaisk ca 500-490 f.Kr. Marmor, fra Aphaiatemplet på Aigina vestgavlen fig IX. Glyptothek München. Royal Cast Collection, Copenhagen.

The EPIGONI are the sons of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES. Wishing to avenge their fathers, they took Thebes ten years after the first war, and pulled down the walls.


Because of Oedipus' curse, his sons Polynices and Eteocles 1 decided to divide their inheritance, the throne of Thebes, by a sharp sword. The Theban conflict for power became a conflict between kingdoms when the exiled Polynices received military aid from King Adrastus 1 of Argos. An army was raised, the army of the SEVEN AGAINST THEBES, which attempted to take the city but failed. Of the SEVEN only Adrastus 1 survived, and the brothers who had originated the conflict killed each other. As Eteocles 1 had died, the Regent Creon 2 (his uncle) took power, but after some time he was succeeded by Laodamas 2, son of Eteocles 1, who became king of Thebes. It is during the reign of Laodamas 2, and ten years after the war of the SEVEN, that the war of the EPIGONI took place, when their Argive army invaded Boeotia, and attacked Thebes.

Who decides between war and peace

These wars were made possible because Eriphyle let herself be bribed, first by Polynices, who gave her the Necklace of Harmonia 1, and later by Thersander 1, son of Polynices, who gave her the Robe of Harmonia 1 (for details about these incidents, see Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1). It is also told that when the first bribe resulted in Amphiaraus, her husband, going to war, he, on leaving for Thebes (and knowing that he would not return), instructed his sons, that they should slay their mother and march once more against Thebes.

The EPIGONI gather

Thersander 1, son of Polynices and Argia 1 (daughter of Adrastus 1), was determined to sit on the throne he believed should have belonged to his father, by deposing his cousin Laodamas 2, son of Eteocles 1, now king of Thebes. The EPIGONI appointed as their commander in chief Alcmaeon 1, son of Amphiaraus and Eriphyle, following an oracle that predicted them victory under his leadership. This time they made sure that the army marching against Thebes would be strong enough. For that purpose, they added to their forces from Argos contingents from Messenia, Arcadia, Corinth, and Megara.

Battle at Glisas

So, having gathered this notable army, the EPIGONI first laid waste the surrounding villages, but when the Thebans advanced against them in open field at Glisas, a fierce battle took place, and in it King Laodamas 2 was killed by Alcmaeon 1. Also Aegialeus 1, son of King Adrastus 1 of Argos, was killed in the battle at Glisas. When Laodamas 2 was dead (though some say he did not die at Glisas but withdrew to Illyria), the Thebans fled within the walls.

Tiresias' last advice

As the war was practically lost, the seer Tiresias told the Thebans to send a herald to treat with the EPIGONI, while themselves took to flight. The Thebans followed his counsel, and while the talks were taking place, they mounted their children and women on wagons, and fled from the city. Tiresias fled with his fellow citizens, but he soon died when they arrived by night to the spring called Tilphussa. Having traveled far enough, the Theban refugees built a new city Hestiaea, where they settled down.

Polynices' heir takes over

In the meanwhile, the EPIGONI took the city. Among others they captured Tiresias' daughter, whom they dedicated to Delphi (see Tiresias). Most Argive commanders returned rich to ther countries after having sacked Thebes, but the city they handed over to Thersander 1, who became king.

List of the EPIGONI 

Adrastus 4, son of Polynices and Argia 1, is also counted among the ACHAEAN LEADERS. Polynices is son of Oedipus, and Argia 1 is daughter of Adrastus 1 and Amphithea 1 (Eur.IA.253ff.; Pau.2.20.5).
Aegialeus 1, son of Adrastus 1, married Comaetho 4, daughter of Tydeus 2 and sister of Diomedes 2. Diomedes 2, in turn, married Aegialeus 1's daughter Aegialia, who took a lover (Cometes 2, see below) while Diomedes 2 was fighting at Troy. Some say that Cyanippus, one of the ACHAEAN LEADERS, is his son, but others say he is son of Adrastus 1. Adrastus 1 died of grief when he learned that his son Aegialeus 1 had perished in the battle at Glisas, killed by King Laodamas 2 of Thebes.

Parentage (two versions)




Adrastus 1 & Amphithea 1

Adrastus 1 & Demonassa 3

Amphithea 1 is daughter of Pronax, son of Talaus, king of Argos.

Comaetho 4



Comaetho 4 is daughter of Tydeus 2 and sister of Diomedes 2.

Aegialia is wife of Diomedes 2.

Cyanippus is one of the ACHAEAN LEADERS.

(Apd.1.8.6, 1.9.13, 3.7.2-3; Hdt.5.68; Hyg.Fab.71; Pau.2.18.4-5; Try.159).

7930: Marble relief of a warrior. 1st century BC. From Rhodes. British Museum, London.

Alcmaeon 1. After capturing Thebes, Alcmaeon 1 learned that his mother Eriphyle had been bribed to his undoing as well as to his father's. So, in accordance with an oracle given to him by Apollo, Alcmaeon 1 killed his own mother, perhaps in conjunction with his brother Amphilochus 1. But he was haunted by the ERINYES of his mother's murder and, having gone mad, he first went to Arcadia, where he was received by Oicles. Thence he came to the court of Phegeus 1 at Psophis, who having purified him, gave him his daughter Arsinoe 1. Nevertheless, the fields were believed to have become barren on his account, and so he departed to Achelous, who purified him again and gave him his daughter as well. But his second wife asked for the necklace of Harmonia 1 that Arsinoe 1 had received from Alcmaeon 1. And when he tried to get it back from his first wife, Phegeus 1 understood he was being deluded by Alcmaeon 1, and sent his sons Pronous 1 and Agenor 3 to kill him, or perhaps killed him himself. Alcmaeon 1 is counted among the SUITORS OF HELEN (see also Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1). Parentage: Amphiaraus & Eriphyle. Mates & Offspring: Alcmaeon 1 was father of Clytius 11 by Alcinoe 1; of Acarnan 1 and Amphoterus 1 by Callirrhoe 2; of Amphilochus 2 and Tisiphone 2 by Manto 1 (Apd.3.7.2-7; Hes.CWE.68.15, 99; Hyg.Fab.245; Pau.6.17.6).

Amphilocus 1. Some say that Amphilochus 1, son of Amphiaraus, was killed by Apollo at Soli in Cilicia (Asia Minor). Amphilochus 2, who not always is well distinguished from Amphilochus 1, was a son of Alcmaeon 1 and Manto 1; he was killed in single combat by Mopsus 2, probably his half-brother (Apd.3.7.2-5, 3.10.8.; Hdt.3.91; Hes.Mel.1, 8; QS.14.366).

Biantes 1. Son of Parthenopaeus, one of the SEVEN (Hyg.Fab.71).

Diomedes 2.

Euryalus 1. Son of Mecisteus 1 (see SEVEN AGAINST THEBES). Euryalus 1 is also counted among the ARGONAUTS, the ACHAEAN LEADERS, and among those who hid inside the WOODEN HORSE.

Polydorus 1. Son of Hippomedon 1 (see SEVEN AGAINST THEBES).

Promachus 1. Son of Parthenopaeus (see SEVEN AGAINST THEBES).

Sthenelus 2. Son of Capaneus (see SEVEN AGAINST THEBES). Sthenelus 2 is also counted among the SUITORS OF HELEN, the ACHAEAN LEADERS, and among those who were inside the WOODEN HORSE. His son Cometes 2 was Aegialia's lover during the absence of Diomedes 2 (Apd.3.7.2, 3.10.8; Apd.Ep.6.10; Eur.IA.246; Hom.Il.2.564; Hyg.Fab.97, 108; Pau.2.18.5; QS.12.314ff.; Vir.Aen.2.61).

Thersander 1, son of Polynices, married Amphiaraus' daughter Demonassa 4, and had by her a son Tisamenus 1, who in time became king of Thebes. Some say that Thersander 1 was killed by Telephus, son of Heracles 1, when the Achaean fleet, sailing against Troy, arrived by mistake in Mysia. But others count him among those who hid inside the WOODEN HORSE (Apd.3.7.2; Apd.Ep.3.17; CYP.1; Hdt.4.147, 6.52; Hyg.Fab.71, 108; Pau.9.5.14-15; Pin.Oly.2.43; Vir.Aen.2.61).

Timeas. Son of Polynices (Pau.2.20.5).

Three lists of the EPIGONI 

Pausanias, Description of Greece 2.20.5:

Adrastus 4, Aegialeus 1, Alcmaeon 1, Amphilochus 1, Diomedes 2, Euryalus 1, Polydorus 1, Promachus 1, Sthenelus 2, Thersander 1, Timeas.

Hyginus, Fabulae 71:

Aegialeus 1, Alcmaeon 1, Biantes 1, Diomedes 2, Polydorus 1, Sthenelus 2, Thersander 1, Tlesimenes.

Apollodorus, Library 3.7.2-3:

Aegialeus 1, Alcmaeon 1, Amphilocus 1, Diomedes 2, Euryalus 1, Promachus 1, Sthenelus 2, Thersander 1.

Related sections Thebes, Robe & Necklace of Harmonia 1, Argos, Oedipus, Tiresias, SEVEN AGAINST THEBES 

Apd.3.7.2-3; Hyg.Fab.71; Pau.2.20.5.