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Capaneus (CAP-uh-noose, "chairoteer"), son of Hipponous and Astynome, was one of the Seven Against Thebes, the warriors gathered by King Adrastus and Polynices to reclaim the throne of Thebes for the latter. He bragged that he would scale the walls of Thebes in spite of Zeus, so naturally (bet you didn’t see this one coming) Zeus struck him down with a thunderbolt. His wife Evadne threw herself on his funeral pyre.

The hubris of Capaneus earned him a place in the seventh circle of Hell, according to Dante. Canto XIV of The Inferno:

At this my Guide spoke with such vehemence
as I had not heard from him in all of Hell:
"O Capaneus, by your insolence

you are made to suffer as much fire inside
as falls upon you. Only your own rage
could be fit torment for your sullen pride.

Then he turned to me more gently. "That," he said,
"was one of the Seven who laid siege to Thebes.
Living, he scorned God, and among the dead

he scorns Him yet. He thinks he may detest
God’s power too easily, but as I told him,
his slobber is a fit badge for his breast.

- translated by John Ciardi


One of the Argive princes who marched against Thebes in the expedition of the Seven Chiefs; he himself was one of the Seven (see AMPHIARUS and ADRASTUS). Capaneus was the son of Hipponous, a man of violence and a giant in size. He had no fear of the gods and, at the time of the first attack on Thebes, he rushed forward impelled by his resolve to burn it, but the thunderbolt sent by Zeus killed him just as he was about to scale the Theban walls. His wife Evadne threw herself on the funeral-pyre which consumed his body. Sthenelus, who took part in the Trojan War was his son.


Table of Sources
- Hom. Il. 2, 564; 4, 403
- Stat. Theb. 3, 598ff.; 4, 165ff.; 6, 731ff.; 10, 827ff.
- Aeschylus, Sept. 422ff.
- Sophocles, OC 1319; Ant. 134ff.
- Euripides, Phoen. 1129; 1172; Suppl. 496ff.; LA 246
- Paus. 9, 8, 7
- Apollod. Bibl. 3, 6, 3; 3, 6, 7; 3, 7, 1
- Hyg. Fab. 70f
- Ovid, Met. 9, 404
- Diod. Sic. 4, 65, 8

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