Eteocles and his brother Polynices were said to have insulted their father Oedipus, who cursed them as a result. Later, Eteocles and Polynices agreed to share the throne of Thebes, but Eteocles failed to honor the agreement and instead banished Polynices.
With the help of his father-in-law Adrastus, Polynices raised an army, known as the “Seven against Thebes,” and waged war against his brother. Eteocles and Polynices met each other in battle, where they were both killed.
Eteocles’ conflict with his brother Polynices was a popular subject in ancient literature and art; depending on the source, Eteocles could be depicted as a patriotic defender of his homeland or as a treacherous tyrant. He and Polynices were sometimes the objects of hero cult.