Theban Hero


Fresco of Amphion and Zethus punishing Dirce

Fresco showing Amphion and Zethus punishing Dirce as their mother Antiope watches, from the House of the Grand Duke in Pompeii (first century CE)

National Archaeological Museum, Naples / Marie-Lan NguyenPublic Domain


Zethus was a Greek hero and king, the son of Zeus and Antiope and the twin brother of Amphion (though some sources named Antiope’s mortal husband Epopeus of Sicyon as the twins’ father). Abandoned at birth, Zethus and Amphion were raised by a herdsman; they later returned to Thebes to destroy those who had abused their mother.

Zethus and Amphion were known for building the walls of Thebes and for jointly ruling the city. Zethus was a practical figure, skilled in agriculture and war, while his twin Amphion was an artist and musician who could move stones with his lyre.

Zethus died of grief when his wife Aedon (or Thebe) accidentally killed their son Itylus. He had a tomb in Thebes, where he was venerated as a founding hero.[1]