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La Thébaïde

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Title: La Thébaïde  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jean Racine, Alexandre le Grand, Les Plaideurs, Bajazet (play), Athalie
Collection: 1664 Plays, French Plays, Plays by Jean Racine, Plays Set in Ancient Greece
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

La Thébaïde

La Thébaïde, or The Thebaid, is a tragedy in five acts (with respectively 6, 4, 6, 3 and 6 scenes) in verse by Jean Racine first presented, without much success, on June 20, 1664 at the Palais-Royal in Paris.[1] A play about the struggle and death of the young son of Oedipus, as well as that of Antigone. This subject had already occupied many authors before Racine. Thus, the young playwright, still fairly inexperienced, drew particularly from the Antigone of Sophocles, the Phoenician Women of Euripides, but especially the Antigone of Jean Rotrou and the tragedies of Pierre Corneille.


The plot is the same as the rest of the Theban plays and poems, in which Eteocles and Polynices, the two warring brothers, fight fiercely, despite the entreaties of their mother, Jocasta and Antigone, their sister, and their two cousins, Menoeceus and Haemon son of Creon. All these characters without exception are killed. Some kill themselves or die of grief. Their characters are quite weakly drawn, Eteocles and Polynices are monotonously violent, Jocasta tired by their declamations, and Creon is a cynical traitor.


  1. ^ Date of the premiere and the venue are listed by Joseph E. Garreau, "Jean Racine" in Hochman 1984, p. 194.
  • Hochman, Stanley, editor (1984). McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama (second edition, 5 volumes). New York: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-079169-5.

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