Vol 8 (2018)

«Investigare il destino nella necessità del caso»: ragione e religione nei “Sette contro Tebe”

Alessandro Grilli
Published July 31, 2019
  • Aeschylus, Seven against Thebes,
  • Eteocles, character,
  • religion in tragedy,
  • rationalism,
  • politics in tragedy


The character of Eteocles in Aeschylus’ Seven against Thebes has often been questioned as lacking unity and consistency. This paper proposes an alternative reading of this assumed discontinuity, which can actually be shown to constitute a systemic feature, reflecting the problematic interference between traditionally religious and early rationalistic world-views. The epistemic fragmentation revealed by Eteocles’ behaviour can therefore be seen as the hallmark of a transition from archaic religious attitudes to a more problematic evaluation of the divine, where human reason is charged with the task of connecting the world’s metaphysical order and the space allowed for human action. In this perspective, responsible action derives from a knowledge which is aware of its own limits, in a world which ultimately resists understanding.