As the story of the war between the sons of Oedipus and their cursed race, the Theban legend rivaled that of Troy in popularity and importance for medieval poets and audiences. Dominique Battles explores the vernacular Theban narratives of the Middle Ages, including the Old French Roman de Thebes (1154), Boccaccio's Teseida, Chaucer's Theban poems (Anelida and Arcite (1370s), the Knights Tale, and the Theban subtext of the Troilus (1380s)), and John Lydgate's Siege of Thebes (1422). The Medieval Tradition of Thebes constitutes the first comprehensive study of the classical legend of Thebes in the Middle Ages. Far from representing a single consistent legend, the story of the civil war between Eteocles and Polynices took on a variety of forms and purposes, each of which presents its own historical paradigm. By tracing the relationship between these texts, Battles demonstrates how each succeeding adaptation of Thebes builds upon and challenges those before it.

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