The mise en scène of Kingship and Power in Aeschylus’ Seven Against Thebes: Ritual Performativity or Goos, Cledonomancy and Catharsis


  • Anton Bierl Greek Philology, Basel



This contribution focuses on Eteocles’ attempts to secure and assert his authority as king and military leader against the female chorus and both the semiotic and self-referential power struggle in the central scene regarding the description of the shields. The extensive pre-dramatic scene of the ecphrastic accumulation of visual signs is interpreted as a symbolic agonistic strife, the theatrical substitute of actual violence. Cledonomantic speech serves as a performative means to convey the oracular anticipation and enigmatic interpretation of the events. Moreover, the paper sheds some light on the mutual reciprocity and circular interaction of fatal entanglements in Thebes and its ruling family. Seen in a cultural perspective of a western Asian healing ritual, the description of the shields can be read as a mise en abyme and mise en scène of the entire play about mutual destruction and the resulting salvation of the polis.






Monographic Section