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The son of Zeus and Antiope and the twin brother of Amphion. The twins were born at Eleutherae in Boeotia and immediately after their birth were abandoned on the mountain-side by Lycus their great-uncle. The two infants were rescued by a shepherd who brought them up. Zethus applied himself to pursuits involving force and the use of his hands such as fighting, agriculture and animal husbandry, while Amphion, who had been given a lyre by Hermes, devoted himself to music. There is a story that the two young men used to quarrel over the merits of their respective pursuits. Amphion, who was milder in temperment than his brother, often yielded to him, even to the point of sometimes giving up his music.

Their mother Antiope, was a prisoner of his uncle Lycus, and treated as a slave by Dirce his wife, who was jealous of her beauty. But one day the shackles which held her miraculously fell off and, unseen by anyone, she reached the cottage in which her sons lived. The twins took their revenge by killing Lycus and Dirce. Dirce's death was dreadful: while still alive she was tied to a bull which dragged her and tore her to pieces on the rocks. After this the two brothers reigned in Thebes, in place of Lycus. They built walls around the town, Zethus carrying stones on his back while Amphion restricted himself to bringing them to him, accompanied by the strains of his lyre. Amphion later married NIOBE, the daughter of Tantalus. Some say that he, together with his children, was killed by Apollo. According to others, he went mad and tried to destroy a temple of Apollo, so the god shot him with an arrow.


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