The conflict between the brothers Eteocles and Polyneikes is about the limits of diplomacy. After the self-blinding of their father Oedipus, they are entrusted with power. Polyneikes accuses his brother of not having kept the appointment of the annual change of government and threatens to take the city of Thebes with the help of allies in a war of aggression. The mother Iocaste forces the two to the negotiating table: speech before revenge. She appeals to human autonomy and freedom of choice. But what if subjective sense of justice and right are not congruent, as in the case of Polyneikes, who finds himself cheated out of the throne? Diplomacy requires the ability to renounce. Yet the "unwillingness to give way" is almost symptomatic of Oedipus' family. Neither he nor his father Laios gave way when they faced each other at the crossroads. Eteocles does not back down from his claim to power, nor does Polyneikes. And little Antigone will later insist, even under threat of death, on a proper premiere funeral for her brother.
Iokaste" is inspired by Euripides' adaptation of the myths under the title "The Phoenissae" and the tragedy "Seven against Thebes" by Aeschylus, which is about 60 years older. The text "Iocaste" turns the screw further into the here and now. Modern trouble spots cannot be extinguished by military intervention. Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war in February 2022, this material of murderous fratricidal conflict and the failure of diplomacy is frighteningly topical.
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