Seneca the Younger, Phoenician Women

LCL 62: 244-245





After recognizing the terrible deeds he had committed in ignorance, Oedipus abdicated and left Thebes; he is now wandering as an outcast, accompanied only by his devoted daughter Antigone. His two sons agreed to share the throne by ruling alternately, but Eteocles, who ruled first, refused to yield the throne. The ousted Polynices therefore secured external help by marrying the daughter of Adrastus, king of Argos, who then raised an army to support the claims of his new son-in-law. This army, with its seven champions, the famous “Seven Against Thebes,” is now about to attack the city. Jocasta has lived on at Thebes after Oedipus’ downfall, not committed suicide as in Sophocles’ Oedipus the King and Seneca’s Oedipus.


This dramatic text is intriguing in form because of its apparent incompleteness: it lacks a chorus, it has insufficient dramatic material for the usual five acts of a Senecan play, and it breaks off abruptly at line 664. What exists falls into two sections, the first concerned with Oedipus and his daughter in exile, the second with his mother-wife Jocasta and their warring sons at Thebes.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.seneca_younger-phoenician_women.2018