Death of Eteocles and Polynices. A.M. 2779

WAG 7687


This is one of a group of drawings by British artist and book illustrator Edward Francis Burney, depicting scenes from Greek and Roman history and mythology. The fighters depicted in this drawing are Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of Oedipus. After Oedipus' expulsion from Thebes, the two sons became joint rulers of the city but Oedipus had cursed them to die by each other's hand and they shared power with great difficulty. Eteocles seized power for himself and forcibly ejected Polynices from Thebes. In retaliation, Polynices raised an army and returned to the city. In the battle which followed they died at each other's hands as their father had cursed.