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Theatre / The Progeny

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The Progeny was the third in a tetrology of plays written by Sophocles about Thebes. Taking place between Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone, it chronicles the war that occurs when Polyneices attacks his home city to regain the throne from Eteocles, his brother who decided not to step down when it was Polyneices' turn to rule.

The play was completely lost for centuries, but in 2005 Oxford classicists used infrared technology to discover a fragment of it, which translates to:

Speaker A: … gobbling the whole, sharpening the flashing iron.

Speaker B: And the helmets are shaking their purple-dyed crests, and for the wearers of breast-plates the weavers are striking up the wise shuttle's songs, that wakes up those who are asleep.

Speaker A: And he is gluing together the chariot's rail.

Aeschylus treated the same story in Seven Against Thebes. Ironically, his plays depicting the rest of the Oedipus story were also lost to history.

The Progeny, so far as it can be reconstructed, contained examples of:

  • Anachronic Order: Like the other Theban plays, Sophocles wrote this one out of chronological order.
  • Costume Porn: The only surviving lines seem to be in the middle of describing military outfits and equipment.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Speakers A and B.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The only reason some tropes on this page can be listed with any certainty.
  • Forging Scene: Speaker A's first line seems to be wrapping up one of these.
  • Interquel: The stunning events of The Progeny take place in between Sophocles's first two Oedipus plays and his first play, Antigone.
  • Mutually Assured Destruction: Eteocles and Polyneices go to war despite knowing the prophecy guarantees both will kill each other.
  • Purple Is Powerful: A common trope in Ancient Greece, and likely the reason Speaker B includes the detail about crest color while describing the soldiers’ armor.
  • Sole Survivor: Adrastus is the only survivor of the Seven Against Thebes.
  • Spin-Offspring: About the conflict between Oedipus' sons for the throne he vacated.