" Among the extensive writing available about the history of ancient Greece, there is precious little about the city-state of Thebes. At one point the most powerful city in ancient Greece, Thebes has been long overshadowed by its better-known rivals, Athens and Sparta. In Thebes: The Forgotten City of Ancient Greece, acclaimed classicist and historian Paul Cartledge brings the city vividly to life and argues that it is central to our understanding of the ancient Greeks' achievements--whether politically or culturally--and thus to the wider politico-cultural traditions of western Europe, the Americas, and indeed the world. From its role as an ancient political power, to its destruction at the hands of Alexander the Great as punishment for a failed revolt, to its eventual restoration by Alexander's successor, Cartledge deftly chronicles the rise and fall of the ancient city. He recounts the history with deep clarity and mastery for the subject and makes clear both the diﬀerences and the interconnections between the Thebes of myth and the Thebes of history. Written in clear prose and illustrated with images in two color inserts, Thebes is a gripping read for students of ancient history and those looking to experience the real city behind the myths of Cadmus, Hercules, and Oedipus."--Amazon.
Perhaps the ultimate irony in all this, and this ties into heroic Theban legend still being a vital metaphor in modern culture, is that the Classical Greeks were just as fascinated and worked the stories of Oedipus and Antigone and the like into their literature. Though much of this might have boiled down to the great Athenian dramatists enjoying nothing more than wallowing in the misfortunes of a great political rival!