The ancient map of Thebes.

Thebes was an ancient city-state that served as one of the main settings in The Oedipus Cycle.

In the plays, there were three different rulers: Oedipus, Eteocles, and Creon. During Oedipus's rule, Iocasta ruled as the queen of Thebes.


In the beginning of Oedipus Rex, a plague occured in Thebes due to religious pollution, according to the oracle at Delphi. In order to stop it the murderer of Laius had to be put to justice. Although he did not know it initially, Oedipus was the murderer, and later he finds out. It is assumed that the plague ended when Oedipus ousted himself from the town.

Eteocles and Polyneices were chosen to be the successors of Oedipus; each would rule for one year, and then the other would take his place. However, when Eteocles's first year was over, he refused to pass it on to Polyneices. Polyneices thus marched his Argive army against the city, but due to a curse Oedipus inflicted on both of them, both brothers died in the battle.

Creon becomes the next ruler afterwards, but during his rule he makes the fatal mistake of leaving Polyneices's body unburied and open. As a result, Antigone, Haemon, and Eurydice kill themselves. Creon expresses great remorse for his wrongdoings. It is unknown what happens after, but one can assume he continued to rule, albeit with more wisdom.